Arguably, Oddland are the best musical entity to come out of a talent show, as they won a European contest and ended up with a one-record Century Media deal and the ability to record with the almighty Dan Swanö. The resulting album, The Treachery of Senses showcased a very talented new voice in modern prog metal, and their follow-up, Origin, offers up further evidence that this is a band well worth keeping an eye on. Their sound has morphed over the years (apparently they were a grunge band initially), but Oddland seem like a nice middle point between TesseracT-style poly-rhythms, and Tool’s love of rhythmic prog metal, with large doses of old- and new-school prog (Haken, Leprous, Dream Theater). The result is something that is quite fresh and unique, in a prog landscape that isn’t always the most receptive to something out of the ordinary (humorously).
Origin is an album of staggeringly wonderful highs and just enough lows to leave room for further growth. Vocalist Sakari Ojanen has a fantastic voice, one that would ably suit a death/doom band; however, it works really well here, as he gets to play around with his range and despair-inducing tone throughout the album. While the album doesn’t necessarily traffic in choruses, his melodies are often sublime, notably on the wonderful closer “Will”. The music behind him is quite impressive, too. Their blend of prog styles is quite enjoyable, radiating hints of darkness throughout the otherwise melodic affair; it’s clear the band doesn’t fall too far from their fellow Nordic tree of sonic darkness, despite Oddland’s love of melody and sonic playfulness (“Hidden”, most notably). There are too many moments to count on this album that are truly wonderful, and it’s pretty clear through two albums that Oddland are masters of the prog climax.
The problems, while minor are notable. First, while both this and their debut are loud affairs, Swanö’s production prowess is missed here. Too many transitions feel less impactful because there is a lack of dynamism; it’s clear the band opted for a proper soft to loud transition, but it’s not clear because of the production. Also, while it’s admirable that the band stepped out and advanced their sound, “Unknown” feels tragically out of place after the excellent “Hidden” and “Skylines”. Otherwise, Origin is a near masterclass is modern progressive metal, deftly able to traffic in different sounds while retaining Oddland’s identity.