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Odin - Odin CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.42 | 45 ratings

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Dr. Judkins
4 stars Oh yes, this is a fantastic gem of a find for me. What I was expecting from a heavy prog band called Odin was something more raw, with heavy distortion, pounding drums, and occasional mythological references. This would have easily satisfied the hard rock side of my musical preferences, but what I hear on this record is entirely different than any of that, and excites the eclectic side of me, particularly the Frank Zappa fan that consumes a lot of my musical fondness. Rightly so, for this group were clearly big fans of Frank's music, containing within a song entitled "Tribute To Frank", which faithfully and tastefully mimics his late-sixties and early-seventies jazz-influenced excursions. A large portion of the record is made up of this kind of influence. Save for the more typically UK Rock vocals you'd probably mistake a lot of the material here for something Frank had come up with at some point.

This is far from a Zappa clone, however. Partially because a true clone of Zappa would probably be an incredibly daunting task, but partially because this group were also quite fond of heavier rock of the era, probably blues fans as well. This is of course a side of Zappa that would come out more and more later in his career, but here we hear it side by side with that earlier style of his, and with the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies of this individual group, clearly making the sound their own. Be The Man You Are also exhibits a possible Yes influence for me, although it's much farther from copying them outright.

Gemini, on the other hand, is a track much more in keeping with the heavy prog spirit, with those distorted guitars, hard rock riffs, UK blues style vocals and frantic organ work, but not without its own amount of goofiness.

Guitarist Rob Terstall keeps things very interesting with his own original style, often complimented by an uncanny reproduction of the Zappa style of guitar solos, some of which actually somewhat foreshadows Frank's future work on albums such as Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar, particularly early in the album's closer, Clown, which also manages to fuse these Frank and Yes influences in spurts, combined with more of the heavy rock influence and other inklings of progressive groups of the time. It could be considered as the closest thing on the album to a Yes-like prog rock suite, twisting and turning through several progressions, tempos, and styles.

Throughout the album are spurts of exotic instrumentation, and very good production considering the very small evident commercial success of the group. It runs the gambit from slow, melancholic and melodic rock tunes, to heavy blues-inspired riffage, with lots of eccentricity and fun experimentation and influence from the lighter side of jazz. Every musician is obviously very skilled, including bassist Ray Brown who clearly did not settle for the simple and repetitive reproductions of the guitar's general progression that sometimes can doom an otherwise excellent record to relative mediocrity. He instead adds creative and skillful basslines throughout while not losing sight of keeping the rhythm maintained.

There are occasional tidbits of psychedelic editing techniques, particularly some sparing usage of reverb and phaser effects, that create a mild space rock feel in parts of Clown and throughout most of Eucalyptus. Radiating through the album is perhaps the most important part of all: The impression that the band genuinely very much enjoyed playing and recording this material. It's fun and occasionally goofy, without becoming hokey or novelty, simply adding a few good vibes into some very well-performed music.

It saddens me that a group such as this would fall by the wayside as they did, but this record of their work was still more than worth their existence, and will make a special addition to the music collection of anyone inclined to the sorts of influences and artists I've listed here, or perhaps even those less familiar with them, as the album can very easily be taken in and of itself for what it musically is. A very fine record by a very nice group.

Dr. Judkins | 4/5 |


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