Review: Odious Mortem

Odious Mortem Synthesia

On Synthesia, their third record and their first for quite a long time, Odious Mortem have really cracked the fucking code. Normally my tolerance for the “technical” variant of death metal is kind of limited. All too often these bands get so wrapped up in their ability to generate riffs in odd configurations and time signatures that they end up chasing themselves up their own collective asshole. It’s a rare band where I find myself thing, “Damn, I really want to hear that song again. But on my third run through this disk, I’m still discovering it’s positives qualities, and still interested in hearing more.

Ok, there are a lot of blast beats, which is pretty much de rigeur for this type of thing, but there aren’t a lot of places where I find myself trying to tap whether they’re still in 7/8 or have moved on to 11 or some other completely random time signature. There are places where these guys sound a lot like Anata, especially in the era of the latter’s Under a Stone with No Inscription. But Anata’s problem, if you want to call it that (and many devotees of this kind of metal probably view this as a virtue) is that they were so fast and changed so often that one often felt suffocated.

There is, of course, something to be said for this. But metal thrives on a certain amount of groove and what you really want is for these bands, when they occasionally stumble onto a really dominant riff among the forest of licks that they’re firing at you, to give it to you enough time to generate some head bob.

Ok, so Odious Mortem don’t give you a huge amount of that, but they do give you enough to keep you interested. The songs are kind of short, at least by technical death metal standards, but that adds to their power. It’s easy to string together riff after riff, especially at hyper speed. It’s harder to arrange songs in a way that makes sense and seems coherent rather than just mystifying. Odious Mortem’s songs make a certain kind of sense, and that lifts their material to a whole other level of quality.

There is an interesting element of old school death metal in these cuts. Not a huge amount, but enough to frame the more technical passages in such a way as to let you comprehend their extremity. This album is distinguished by its musicality, which is just not something one finds oneself writing about technical death metal bands all that often. It’s not just that these dudes are good at their instruments. They’re good at writing songs, which is not the same thing.

Synthesia is a stone-cold slab of blistering death metal. Their playing is absolutely razor-sharp, which is, of course, the coin of the realm here. It’s not just that it’s extreme and impressive, although it is both of those things. It’s simply awesome death metal and something that should definitely be your jam.

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