Okyr – Premorbid Intelligence – Album Review

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Artist: Okyr

Album Title: Premorbid Intelligence

Label: Independent Release

Date of Release: 21 August 2020

The perils of running a music website are few, but one is the sheer amount of emails I receive asking me to review music. It’s certainly a good thing, but the peril is that much of the music is pretty poor if I’m honest, or simply not my ‘thing’. At what point exactly did I profess a love of pop-infused acoustic indie?! Therefore it’s always nice when you receive an email directly from a band that you’ve never heard of, where the music they put forward doesn’t suck. Step forward Okyr.

Okyr are a progressive metal quartet from Brazil and this record, ‘Premorbid Intelligence’ is their debut release having only begun their journey in 2017. The album features eight tracks that span around 54 minutes in total, meaning that it sits around, or just over, the ideal length as far as I’m concerned. And, based on the material here, any more and the album would have been far too unwieldy and daunting. I say this, because this is progressive metal where there’s quite a bit going on to put it mildly. The core of the music is what I’d loosely define as ‘classic’ progressive metal, the kind inspired by the likes of Dream Theater et al. Indeed, the bio for the band cites the usual suspects in terms of influences, from the aforementioned Dream Theater, to Haken, via Symphony X and Rush. However, whilst ‘Premorbid Intelligence’ isn’t out-and-out originality, there are some aspects of the music that mean that this isn’t a simple cut and paste or copy job.

At times, the songs can see smooth and melodic, with just enough hooks to keep you interested and grounded with the music. The perfect example is the opening track, ‘Apathetic’ and I’m anything but apathetic about it, especially after a few concerted spins. It is a bright, breezy and generally up-tempo track that features plenty of excellent musicianship from guitarist Tiago Alain, bassist Jean Elias, and drummer Valmir Pegas, as well as lashings of your fairly typical synth embellishments. Vocalist Carlos Rocha is an acquired taste, certainly initially, thanks to some unusual phrasings and chosen vocal lines. But given time, I have come to appreciate much more his delivery. The chorus gets stronger with each passing listen too, meaning that it’s a strong start to the record.

At other times, the four-piece like to cut loose and delve into Latin, jazz or extreme metal territories. And when I say jazz, it’s the kind where it borders on ‘eclectic’, or what I as a member of the jazz unenlightened, ‘a mess’. Fortunately, for the most part, these wild forays aren’t overdone and therefore don’t cause me any brain injuries to speak of. At least, not yet anyway.

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‘Janus-Faced’ is a completely different animal. It is darker, more sinister, and much more bi-polar, perhaps a reflection of the lyrics which talk of alter egos. At the outset, the music is pedestrian, but nicely delivered. And then all hell breaks loose via an extended instrumental section where jazz piano trades with lead guitar solos that threaten to spiral out of control. The changes in rhythm and tempo are frequent, creating a deliberately difficult listening experience, complete with a smattering of death metal growls and heavier riffs. Fortunately, a return to the more melodic refrains of the intro are reprised and the guitar solo is mellifluous and striking.

I hear more of a thrash tone within the riffs of ‘Man In White’ at times, another song that likes to flit from idea to idea with almost gay abandon. It’s a wonder how the song remains intact and doesn’t unravel, but it doesn’t and in fact, there’s another chorus that starts to weave a little magic with repeated listens. ‘Calm Down’ is another great composition with strong hooks, although it highlights ever so slightly the shortcomings in the production. It is generally of a decent standard, but occasionally, as demonstrated here, it lacks guts and a little oomph; I’d have liked a meatier sound to really make the most of the riffs and the bass, but at least there is a good amount of separation, allowing each instrument enough space to be heard.

If I was to pick a favourite track, it would have to be the gigantic 15-minute composition that goes by the name of ‘Panacea’. It begins in theatrical, cinematic style thanks to bold classical orchestration that gets more intense as it develops, lush and vibrant taking its own twists and turns, telling its own story as it goes. Eventually, the orchestration is replaced by a swirling, eddying riff, chunky and properly heavy in places, whilst further instrumentation flirts with chaos like a small toddler on the path of exploration, into everything it sees and hears. The Latin influences emerge as the extended instrumentation continues, with Carlos Rocha entering at around six minutes. He explores many voices but eventually settles into his usual style, as the track finally unleashes the most addictive and compelling melody of the entire album, a crescendo of sorts, that shows the band at their very best, demonstrating more of their exciting potential as a result.

In summary, ‘Premorbid Intelligence’ is a fine record, a very fine debut release and the perfect appetizer for the future. Excellent musicianship, a good grasp of songwriting, and plenty of ambition – it’s a winning recipe and bodes well for the future of this relatively new band. I’m excited to see what happens next and whether or not they catch the ear of a record label. On the strength of ‘Premorbid Intelligence’, they certainly deserve to have a bright future.

The Score of Much Metal: 80%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Hinayana – Death Of The Cosmic
Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
Unleash The Archers – Abyss
Veonity – Sorrows
Nyktophobia – What Lasts Forever
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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