The Odious Construct – Shrine of the Obscene – EP Review

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Artist: The Odious Construct

Album Title: Shrine of the Obscene EP

Label: The Artisan Era

Date of Release: 12 October 2018

Of late, I have really been getting into the technical progressive death metal genre. It just seems to me that there are a ton of really great bands doing their thing within these confines and much of it is speaking to me. I’m loving the extremity and brutality of the music, the sharp and incisive delivery and the inventiveness, not to mention an injection of melody, the voracity of which will differ from band to band. It is almost impossible to get bored when listening to this genre because there’s just so much going on and plenty to discover with each listen.

Today, I’m here to tell you that you can add the name The Odious Construct to the ever-growing pile. Unlike their name, there is nothing remotely odious about this Sacramento, California-based quintet because they are able to offer a highly commendable slab of tech/prog death that is well worth listening to.

On the downside, this EP, ‘Shrine of the Obscene’, lasts for less than 20 minutes across just five tracks. In a genre familiar with longer, more epic compositions, The Odious Construct seem content with a more streamlined approach where the songs enter, make their mark, and quickly leave. It is never easy to form an opinion of a release when it is so truncated. And to a certain extent, this same criticism can be levelled at Casey Ryle (vocals), Wes Yee (guitars), Ben Jackson (guitars), KC Brand (drums) and Sam Datu (bass), otherwise known as ‘The Odious Construct’.

That said, for the apparent brevity of the material, the music covers an awful lot of ground and certainly feels more convoluted than it actually is. For a band that only came into existence in 2015 and has one previous EP to their name, I have been left deeply impressed by the music that ‘Shrine of the Obscene’ offers lovers of extreme technical heavy metal. These guys have some skills and they deploy them with apparent ease on this all-too-short EP. Thunderous blastbeats, fluid bass playing, complex riffs, soaring leads and uncompromising gruff vocals all combine with a giant bang.

The very best aspect of ‘Shrine of the Obscene’ however, is the blend of melody and lush, cinematic symphonics that are layered within the music to give the compositions an added depth, sophistication and originality. The Odious Construct occupy some kind of middle ground between the original purveyors of the tech death genre and the likes of the overtly grandiose and hugely symphonic Fleshgod Apocalypse. At once, the music is both intense and sufficiently melodic to give the songs a strong identity.

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‘Vortex of Self’ kicks the EP off with a tinkling piano duetting with an urgent, up-tempo riff and then, without so much as a ‘by your leave’, in comes an insanely fast and metronomically accurate blastbeat. It’s like a statement of early intent and it works. From there, riffs are deployed with surgical precision, the rhythms dance around with fluidity and playfulness and the whole thing is laced with synths that bathe the song with strong atmospheres. The keys, borderline discordant at times remain at the heart of the track which, in the blink of an eye is done and dusted.

Without pause for breath, ‘Descension’ marches in to fill the void, offering another slab of slick extreme death metal. If anything, the atmospheres are more pronounced here than within its predecessor, as the orchestration creates an imposing backdrop upon which the brutality plays out. The lead guitar solos within this song are a treat for the ears, both supremely technical and eloquent in equal measure, able to offer a depth of emotion that I was not necessarily expecting.

If anything, the longer the EP goes on, the more melodic and over-the-top the songs become. A personal favourite has to be the absurdly brilliant ‘Cyanide Eyes’. For a track that offers such bruising punishment, it is undeniably immediate thanks to a wealth of melodic intent, delivered by rich symphonics, gorgeous lead guitar work that operates in tandem with distinctive keys and a marvellous lead solo that stops me in my tracks every time it lets rip. The bass guitar is also more prominent at times within this song, rumbling with authority and energy at its core.

And, in terms of sheer over-the-top grandiosity, the best is saved for last in the form of the excellent title track. It bears most resemblance to the likes of Fleshgod Apocalypse insofar as it is the most bombastic and cinematic. Choir vocal effects and bold orchestration push The Odious Construct’s material further into the world of pompous cinematic territory, but it remains a satisfyingly brutal, extreme and muscular slab of extreme metal at the same time.

As I said before, I just wish I had more music to listen to. Just as I get into my stride, the EP is over and I have to start over again. Not that I mind of course. ‘Shrine of the Obscene’ contains some expertly-crafted and mature extreme metal that belies the youth of the band and bodes very well for the future. I just hope that we get a full-length record from The Odious Construct before too long, so that the momentum they are rightly building can be fully realised and not squandered. If you like progressive, technical death metal with melodic tendencies, you need to check this out immediately.

The Score of Much Metal: 9

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:

2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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