My introduction to Odd Dimension came in the strangest of ways, but 99% of those who know me will admit I’m a rather strange person anyways (the other 1% being my Mother, who thinks I am wonderful just the way I am). In an effort to keep a miniscule finger on the days of old, I make a regular visit to a local record store here in the Bay Area. It is record heaven, and even has a prog metal section, probably the only one of its kind in the area. Upon these visits, if there is nothing there I’m looking for, I will tend to make a blind purchase, based on the most random things, from the cover to the band’s name to the tracks to whatever, I just grab something and buy it. Maybe half of the time, I end up with something average, stuff that in the end serves only to increase my collection’s size and appearance. Sometimes, I will score something above average that might see a bit of regular time in my rotation. Then there are those rare times, oh those rare times. I get home and put the album on and hit play, and wait to see what I got, then the music comes through and floors me. The sense of elation is really unparalleled in my book. Of all those times I made these blind purchases, the day I randomly made Odd Dimension’s album Symmetrical my chance of the day was the most rewarding, I was literally shouting with joy, and I have been chomping at the bit for another sound from this band. Enter the Lady, who excitedly tells me a short while ago that she got the new release, and after a day or so of merciless teasing, handed it over. Knowing I was in for some good prog metal, I hit play and braced myself for the awesome.
Now before we dig into the album, let’s meet the principles that make up Odd Dimension. Hailing from Alessandria, Italy (and seriously, what the heck do they put in the water in Italy that breeds such awesome prog metal?), Odd Dimension started forming around 2001, and released their debut Symmetrical in 2011 under the Scarlet Records label. The players consist of Gabriele Ciacca on keyboards, Frederico Pennazzato on drums, Gigi Andreone on bass, Gianmaria on guitar, and Manuel Candiotto on vocals. Making a guest vocal appearance is Michele Luppi of Secret Sphere, and handling the production duties is Simone Mularoni, who will be a guitarist on the upcoming Epysode II project. Coincidentally, in the upcoming week, the Lady will be in the Noise Factory Studio to witness some of the recording sessions, so we might be hearing more about this gentleman later. Either way, it won’t suck to be the Lady Obscure that week, that’s for sure.
The Last Embrace to Humanity, described as an album “structured around an ambitious concept about the alienation of mankind, in an era in which everything tends to be severely damaged or destroyed in the name of progress”, opens with The Unknown King, and a brutally powerful opener it is. Heavy chords wake the listener up immediately, though the melodic elements are present, this opener is based in brute force bass, and is a real beast. I should note that my personal favorite parts of the album are these moments, when the lower notes hit, the ones that bypass the ear and make the gut vibrate. Odd Dimension handles these so very deftly. Candiotto’s vocals are quality, and though the annunciation is rough at times, it is made up for with the unique vibrato he adds to his tone, one that carries over all the ranges. The rough edge just brings the intense music that much more to life. This one also carries a very dark tone to it, one of a dire submission. Flowing into the second track, Under My Creed, they carry this intensity, but start introducing some softer elements, as if the submission of the initial track wasn’t complete, that there is a deeper realm of despair, and this song represents the acceptance of that. I find it fascinating to get this vibe from an album without having a complete understanding of the lyrical elements, and it is something that they are quite adept at, and carry throughout the rest of the album.
As it does carry on into the third track, Dissolving into the Void, which starts with softly dramatic keys, punctuated by the harder bass and guitars. The tension built up in this opening is so palpable. At its climax, it mellows, and Candiotto takes over, a certain consigned despair to his singing, “working through these empty times…..as I lay, I lay awake in the dark”. In the first three songs, Odd Dimension goes to great lengths to break us down, to show that we are nearly hopeless. In the fourth track, It’s So Late, a different feel comes through, one of a more simple set of desires, those of being comforted and loved. This is followed by another ballad (at least in by prog metal standards), Another Time, an uplifting number filled with a possibility of hope.
The next track, Fortune and Desire, opens with a dose of sheer awesome, setting the tone for a frantic and searching song, one that jumps and dances across with a very, very heavy hand. The next track, The New Line of Time, seems to start to bring some sense of resolution to the overall tone of the album. This is a softer track, built upon some wonderful guitar and vocal work. There are a few moments where they break out of the ethereal mode, and they serve to punctuate the song well. Finishing off the album is Far From Desire, which is also the most dynamic of the tracks. It opens with a ferocious intensity, all the musical elements are set to “holy shit!!!” here, and they just pound and pound in this one. Once again, the rhythm section led lower tones really take hold in a special manner here. Then as the song, and the album, builds to a finale, they build up a serious climactic moment that really captures the intensity of the album as a whole. It is a great track, and might be my favorite on the album, but that is a factor that can always change upon more listening, which this album will definitely get.
So my gamble in the record store paid off with the discovery of another great Italian prog metal band. Odd Dimension’s hard work paid off with a lights out album, one that brings a huge gamut of emotions to the forefront with a barrage of deft instrumental and vocal work. I am so very curious to see if they are able to carry this one onto the stage, and if so, what a lucky audience that will be.