Anyone who knows me is probably familiar with the fact that I'm a progressive rock fan as much as I am a metal head. I have been a prog fan since my early days of music exploration. On any given day during high school, it wouldn't be out of the norm to spin Screaming for Vengeance by Judas Priest followed up by Relayer from Yes. These two genres have always fit comfortably side by side in my little music world and continue to do so to this day. So, it should come as no surprise that The Dark Dunes of Titan by German metal band Odetosun would be to my liking. So much so, that it has dominated my CD player since its release in October of this year.
On the surface, it is easy to describe Odetosun as progressive death metal. While this is somewhat accurate, there is so much more to their sound. There are heavy doses of post-atmospheric metal mixed in with jazzy interludes and spacey 1970's progressive rock. Their sound is massive and ominous, but also rhythmic and spread-out. At times, it feels like Odetosun is metal's version of a progressive jam band with harsh vocals. Which might seem like an odd mix of styles, that may not work for some, but Odetosun finds a way to blend it all together to create a unique sound.
Odetosun's approach starts to make sense when you consider The Dark Dunes of Titan is based on the science fiction novel As On a Darkling Plain by Ben Bova. For those who are unfamiliar with this book, the plot centers around an Earth manned mission to Titan, Saturn's largest satellite. The objective is to investigate centuries old machines left behind by an alien race. Okay, this is some heady stuff for a metal album. However, if this is what it sounds like to venture out into space, then sign me up for the ride.
The Dark Dunes of Titan consists of 4 songs clocking in at 43 minutes. The first half of the album kicks off with an instrumental called "At the Shore of the Ammonia Sea." Spacey keyboards and jazzy guitar work coupled with trance-like bass playing pulls you along at a deliberate pace. It seems as if Odetosun intends to lure you in so that they can set you up for what is coming next. "Machine Horizon" follows with a heavy burst of energy that feels like a stampede of wild horses passing right over you. There is an Opeth vibe circa Blackwater Park that is unrelenting. The song is definitely the centerpiece of the album and showcases Odetosun at their best.
The latter half continues with "Remember Sequoia Forest", the album's second instrumental and shortest track. Tasteful guitar work and classic progressive overtones create an effortless transition between the album's heaviest tracks. Things come to a close with the 16-minute title track, "The Dark Dunes of Titan." It is here that Odetosun finds a heavy groove that is highlighted by slick riffs, pulsating bass work, and ample doses of mellotron. During most of this song I can't help but think of Isis (the band) meets early 1970's Genesis.
The Dark Dunes of Titan is a challenging listen and requires your full attention. It is an album that evolves with each spin. Some may not enjoy the expansive style or the ease with which Odetosun moves between genres. Personally, I find their approach to be refreshing and much needed in a world of metal that can, at times, be overly saturated and generic. So, if this intrigues you, and you are interested in trying something slightly different, please head over to Odetosun's Bandcamp page and check out one of my favorite releases of the year.