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Ostura - The Room CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.84 | 41 ratings

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4 stars As a genre, I believe that progressive metal is the most difficult to get right in terms of having enough variety in the music and keeping it interesting. This is why bands such as Dream Theater now struggle to write imaginative prog metal albums, as if the genre is rendering them creatively barren. Ostura, on the other hand, have created an artistically ambitious concept album that gives progressive metal a great name. The story follows a solitary girl who takes refuge in the room, in which she is locked in with her own thoughts. With these thoughts she is able to create a whole new universe within the room. The whole thing is full of drama, almost sounding like it should be the soundtrack to a film at times. This, along with the most impressive dynamic and textural contrasts, is what keeps the listener's attention throughout.

The opening track, 'The Room', introduces the female protagonist as she is heard panting as if running for her life. As this keeps the pulse, the string orchestra brings the drama by playing rapid demisemiquavers; the drums then join in with the strings while the guitar plays contrasting semi quavers against this. This drives the album into sudden action, and it is utterly exciting to listen to; this foreshadows the overwhelming nature of the rest of the album. The guitar riffs in this song (and the whole album for that matter) are constructed with care so as to make them memorable but also full of enormity. 'Escape' is a favourite of mine on the album, as it showcases everything that makes the whole album great. The use of such grand string orchestrations gives this album such an edge over other metal albums as it is used meaningfully; I have never heard an orchestra fit so well on a metal album. At the start of 'Escape' the strings are showcased beautifully, playing drawn out dissonant notes before playing with rapid movement similar to that of the first track. The crunching guitar that follows fools the listener into thinking that they are in the thick of the action. However, the action suddenly cuts out and all that can be heard is the voice of Youmna Jreissati accompanied by a delicately played piano and strings. The band then suddenly re-enters but the best bit of the song still hasn't been reached - so far, the dynamic contrasts have been superb in this song. When we get to 2:20, after hearing an overwhelming peak on the word 'escape', the most amazing guitar riff is heard and to make things better is it isolated so that the listener is able to hear how awesome it is. The riff plays a huge part on the whole album, crafted so that no two riffs even sound remotely similar which adds much variety to each song. The dynamic contrasts are also what make this album so stunning; songs such as 'Only One' and 'Deathless' showcase how dynamically vast this album is, jumping from soft to loud dynamics in seconds.

The song 'Mourning Light' acts as a welcome break from the albums complexity and also provides a break from its intensity. It is a very spacey track, showcasing Youmna Jreissati's gorgeous voice over a very subtle piano. The start of 'Darker Shade of Black' also attempts to be different from the rest of the album. It is nice to hear some different instruments such as the flute and also to hear an acoustic guitar rather than a distorted guitar tone. Although this soon returns to a metal feel, it is an example of how this album refuses to just rely on metal's stereotypical ideas. This song also features my favourite guitar solo on the album, it isn't as overblown as some of the other solos present on the album. It is an extremely smooth solo, as it relies on glissandos mainly, and is carefully assembled so that every note counts. The longest song 'Duality' seems to be split into two parts; the first part embraces metal to a great extent and can be associated with its many changes in time signature as well as some tempo changes. The second part of the song is my favourite, everything is stripped back and again is made to sound spacey before an acoustic guitar enters strumming chords. As the vocals sing over the top of this, each instrumental part is layered in so that the intensity of this section grows. Another expertly crafted guitar solo then leads us into the final minute of the song which is the most euphoric moment on the album - it is another overwhelming moment on the album but it's a different kind of overwhelmed feeling, more like being overwhelmed by emotion rather than by the ambitious nature of the album. 'Exit the Room' is the quietest and most reflective song on the album; it is nice to end the album this way rather than having a heavy ending, as it allows the listener to relax and cool down after being bombarded by the album's complexity.

This truly is a one off in the world of prog metal and it should be an album to inspire those metal bands that are creatively struggling for ideas as to how to progress the genre. If I was going to critique this album, all I would say is that it is not accessible to everyone due to how extremely ambitious and complex it is. It may take a few listens to really be able to appreciate its grandeur but it's worth it in the end.

DominicS | 4/5 |


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