Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Odd Dimension - Symmetrical (2011)

Hailing from Italy, Odd Dimension have made a bold statement with this, their first album. "Symmetrical" is a foray into the world of progressive power metal, taking a Dream Theater approach to a Stratovarius album, in a way. The band has all the talent necessary to make a splash. But in this game, momentum is the key. Can this Italian five piece keep up the pace, or will they lag behind?

A snare roll gives the cue for guitars and keys to wind their way up and down the scales. "Farewell To The Stars" is the promise. It makes a statement from the first note, one that is built around the fundamentals of progressive power metal: high speed drumming, powerful guitar licks and a bass line to drive it all home. A darting keyboard pokes through the foundation to provide extra melody. All the while, a slightly limited vocal range is on display. An acoustic midsection leads the way to a barrage of solos, from guitar to keys. Orchestrations provided by the synths are a focal point, carrying the melody to it's conclusion.

Standard rock riffs and a bass line that would make any jazz musician jealous kick off "Rising Through Light." But the strings must step aside and let the keyboard do it's work. The low kick drum provides the beat, with sizzling cymbals punctuating the count. The slowed tempo allows for some heavy chugging and drum combos before reintroducing the keyboard for some brilliant melodies. The vocals are hit and miss, sometimes failing to match the power delivered by the instruments. Slick guitar work takes you to the finish, and right into "The Ecstasy Of Hopes." Beautifully played piano leads off, submitting to the will of shredding guitars. Precise drum fills introduce the vocals, mid range and slightly raspy. Double kicks reveal themselves later on, each meeting of mallet to drum letting out a solid punch. Few delicately played keys serve as the outro.

"Another Shore" dips into some heavier moments. More drum fills, more distorted guitar work, but not in the dominating way. A soft interlude breaks in, slowing the pace to a slow crawl. When the beats picks up, you hear the first of the growls. They will catch you off guard, and will be immediately followed by screeching vocals. They serve as a bump in the road, throwing you off the trail, only to be jolted back with some tremendous solo work. "The Day Meets Night" may feel like a speed metal track at the start, but quickly loses steam. It goes from guitar thrash to a piano infused ballad, back into the keyboard driven progressive power metal style you expect. The clean vocals struggle to not be outdone by the music, but they thrive in the acoustic pieces, such as the breakdown portion found here.

"Lightspeed Journey" is a keyboard and guitar clinic that seems to slip and fall into an uptempo ballad. Multiple time signatures play off of one another, changing things up at the perfect time. The major issue is the vocals feel tacked on. The track feels as though it was written to be instrumental, but had a change of heart at the last moment. This only hurts the flow of the song. "I'll Be Back Once More" is a fitting ending to the journey. Jaunty and upbeat, it is a fulfillment to the promise made at the beginning of the album. Keyboards are atmospheric and spacey, padded by a thumping bass line. Drumming is spot on throughout, without ever stealing the spotlight away from the blazing solos.

Despite the occasional misstep, Odd Dimension manage to hammer out a dynamic mix of progressive and power metal elements. Guitar and keyboard work are stellar, and the rhythm section is precise, almost to a fault. There is so much to celebrate on the album, which unfortunately serves to highlight the lack of vocal polish. A slight tweak of the singing style and pattern made be needed. But I certainly do hope that, as the album's finale promises, they'll "be back once more."


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