Despite some rock-solid contributions to the genre, instrumental metal is an oft-overlooked idiom. Odyssey’s new record An Abstract Existence stands as a triumph in the genre, blending a love of thrash, death metal, fusion jazz and prog rock. Forget neoclassical metal and mathcore. Odyssey are what happens when a tech death band ingests too much classic Yes and fires their vocalist. In case you’re wondering that’s a very, very good thing.

I accidentally listened to the wrong record about four times before I realized I’d made a mistake. (Long story short: Check out Odyssey by Dimensions if you like technical death metal with intelligent lyrics about mysticism.) But this error actually prepared me to review Odyssey. The vocals on the Dimensions record weren’t sub par by any means, but I sometimes found them intrusive. I wondered to myself what the record would sound like without vocals.

An Abstract Existence blends the melodic and the brutal with surprising ease. The band displays a technical prowess that might literally be unmatched in contemporary metal. They don’t just know every mode of Phrygian dominant and harmonic minor scales backwards and forwards. They’ve also got legit jazz chops — especially drummer Lukas Hilker, who easily shifts from a basic meat-and-potatoes rock rhythms to exotic time signatures I can’t even begin to hazard a guess at without batting an eyelash.

When you don’t have a vocalist to rely on, it’s a lot harder to make your songs stand out. But stand out these songs do. The record proves on thing once and for all: You don’t need death growls to be brutal.

Bottom Line: Odyssey combine the best of Yes and The Faceless, while tending toward the former.

(four out of five horns)


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