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OH. - Metallia CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.26 | 19 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The term "progressive metal" rarely gets me excited any longer as it seems for every innovative band that finds a way to craft something completely out of the box, there's about a thousand or more imitators ready to latch on to any possible shred of creativity released and eager to dumb it down until it's almost impossible to distinguish who actually started the innovation. Every once in a while though, some artist will find a way to create a stylistic shift that incorporates all the elements on the check list without sounding like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Fates Warning, Crimson Glory or Pain Of Salvation. Yes indeed. Progressive can transcend whereas the metal part firmly establishes some expectations.

And all the way from Athens, Greece we find one of those unique artists who has found a way to go somewhere i've never experienced and i have to admit that it's grown on me quite a bit. OH. (note the period that follows) is the abbreviated pseudonym and one-woman band aka Olivia Hadjiioannou who has cranked out a series of singles and three full releases. This one, METALLIA is the third and i'm not sure whether to call it an EP or an album because various sources list it either way but at a quick running time of only 25:22, i'm personally more inclined to call it an EP no matter what the artist deems it. That's just my take on releases under 30 minutes. There needs to be a United Nations declaration of human rights for these distinctions already!

Olivia or OH. is a true powerhouse as she single-handedly plays ALL the instruments on her albums. That includes the electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. METALLIA displays her in full action as she cranks out six tunes that are designed to be part of larger listening experience and like the Greek version of Joan of Arc, OH. is ready for battle as seen on the album cover and ready to kick some serious Olympian ass. After hearing this feisty little metal battle of the sonic senses, you may also come to the conclusion that she achieved victory. This is a concept album albeit a nebulous one that takes its cues from alchemy. While those aspects of this album escape me, the miracles of the elements of the music that transmogrify my spirit are enough to convince me of the effects.

METALLIA is quite unique as it takes percussive cues from more traditional ethnic sources such as Greek and Middle Eastern rhythms which conspire to create unifying rhythmic flows but also offer strange time signature rich deviations from the hypnotic status quo. While the umbrella term of progressive metal surely applies, this isn't the standard verse / chorus / bridge / solo type of material. Rhythmically speaking, this has more in common with military march music than say the airy fairy nature of Riverside. The distinct percussive drive is like a horse ride through the battle field with a certain steady flow with unforeseen angular deviations that pop up when least expected. This bombastic initiative provides the necessary backdrop for the other two major elements that reside indecently from each other but work beautifully in tandem, namely the atmospheric keyboards and the crunchy guitar riff workouts.

The music is easily accessible upon the first listening experience but also has enough complex subtleties to reel you back for more. With the rhythmic pulse established, OH. cranks out a dense atmospheric underpinning that finds exotic synth patterns emerging beneath the guitar oriented distortion that actually follows suit rather than leading the way. Vocals are another unique aspect of OH. as METALLIA is almost wordless. Her unique utterances are mostly used as a supplemental instrument that eschews the need for words to convey meaning but nevertheless provide the appropriate emotional stabs as they provide the pulse of a human connection to it all. While mostly wordless, there are times when OH. simply repeats the same word such as on the finale "Triumph," where she celebrates the defeat of the enemy by reciting the track title throughout its run.

For all its brevity, METALLIA packs a punch like a quickened battle on Middle Earth. With the epic nature of classic Manilla Road and trance metal guitar heft that weaves around the energetic Middle Eastern percussive flow, OH. displays not only her metal idiosyncrasies unlike any other but fortifies them with some serious progressive workouts that allow the complex atmospheric overcast to create the perfect metal storm of sensual goddess driven bombast like Kate Bush joined Slayer and decided to conquer Rome. Add to that there are subtle flamenco and industrial influences to create one of the strangest albums to fall under the prog metal banner of the year. And during the short time this short little slice of metal heaven is in the midst of the battle of the forces it is quite satisfying in the end that the supplicatory pleas of "Triumph" are heard no doubt with the help of Aphrodite, Zeus and other Greek deities who enjoyed this album as much as i did! έξοχος!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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