Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn – Album Review

Artist: Odd Dimension

Album Title: The Blue Dawn

Label: Scarlet Records

Date of Release: 26 March 2021

It’s hard to know where to begin with this album review, given that there’s so much to tell you about. ‘The Blue Dawn’ marks the return of Italian progressive rock/metal band after an absence of eight years. They return with a new line-up, a new record with over an hour’s worth of music on it, and it’s a concept album as well. And, in true prog fashion, it’s a concept featuring various characters, guest vocalists, spoken-word parts, and a convoluted story that I’m still struggling to get my head around.

Maybe let’s start with the concept then, to get that out of the way. In the band’s own words, ‘The Blue Dawn’ apparently tells the story of “…two space travellers – Markus and Eloise – involved in a deviation from their original path caused by the attacks of an unknown population that makes them land on a new planet then called ‘The Blue Planet’ where they’ll have to struggle to live, to the point of creating an army with the very matter of that planet to help them restore order and save their children, who will eventually mix with the hosts created by them, generating a new race.”

In order to bring the concept to life, Odd Dimension call on no less than five guests to sing and narrate on ‘The Blue Dawn’, including Labyrinth’s Roberto Tiranti and two female vocalists, Aileen and Eliana Parodi. They join guitarist Gianmaria Saddi, bassist Gigi Andreone, and keyboardist Gabriele Ciaccia, as well as new recruits, drummer Marco Lazzarini and vocalist Jan Manenti.

I think that’s all of the housekeeping out of the way. And so, on to the music. On that score, I find myself a little conflicted. On the one hand, the music is deep, warm, vibrant, and without doubt intelligent. To say that there is a lot going on within the ten compositions is something of an understatement; it takes plenty of time to digest fully. But, having duly spent that time in order to bring this review to fruition, I am still not entirely convinced by ‘The Blue Dawn’. There is no denying that Odd Dimension are a talented bunch, with hunger, desire, and ambition. But ultimately, there is something about the music that prevents me from fully taking to it and lauding it as the next great progressive release.

On reflection, I think it is more accurately a cumulation of several small things instead of one giant stumbling block because the overriding sense I get is that it’s a very decent album and to be too negative is to do the band a great disservice; it may just be my personal take and opinion that leads me to these conclusions.

One of the main issues I have is in terms of the melodies. The quintet have the ability and there are flashes of brilliance which I will reference in a moment. But frustratingly, the genius is sporadically applied, with the bulk of the material being generally ok, but not ground-breaking.

The instrumental intro entitled ‘Mission No.773’ though, is gorgeous and shows the promise of great things to come. It is opulent, cinematic and highly atmospheric, with a huge sci-fi sheen. It is stirring and dramatic in the best way possible and I can’t wait for the album to continue.

‘Landing On Axtradel’ is the first ‘proper’ composition, a song that blurs the edges between progressive rock and metal. The robotic, electronic narration is hard to decipher and won’t be to everyone’s taste but the music is energetic and professionally executed. When vocalist Manenti enters for the first time, the band demonstrate some hefty Everon vibes with bold piano notes. Without any doubt, Jan Manenti is a great addition to the fold as his voice is very powerful, expressive, and with a nice rock grit to it. The song begins to grow on me after several spins but it never catches light, despite some choral vocals and a dramatic closing sequence.

And, for the larger part of this record, these comments remain accurate. The music is well put together, with lots of clever flourishes and progressive intent. But for all of the bluff and bluster, the lack of killer melodies holds back my enjoyment.

I also happen to think that the 70s influences loom too large over much of the music. That’s definitely the case with ‘The Invasion’ with its huge organ embellishments. It’s also true of large parts of the ten-minute title track, where it becomes way too bluesy and hard rock-esque for my tastes. And that’s a shame because there are some lovely sections to the composition that are undermined by this approach. As I said before, it’s a subjective thing and others may lap this up, but I don’t unfortunately. I can understand the reasoning though, because Manenti does have a voice suited to that style of music, and it is utilised to the fullest on ‘The Blue Dawn’.

I hate being so negative, but it’s only because when Odd Dimension get it right, they have the ability to make magic. The opening to ‘Escape To Blue Planet’ is beautiful, as is the mid-album instrumental interlude, ‘Solar Wind’. It’s an exquisite piece of music, with deep resonant strings alongside delicate piano notes initially, with further eloquent and emotional strings appearing as the composition moves forward. And the melodies are truly captivating.

Speaking of strong melodies, I have to mention ‘Life Creators’ which is, for me, head and shoulders the best song on the record. The guitars are muscular and arresting in a way that they have never been up to now, delivering stunning melodies. The piano continues apace, adding depth, whilst the vocal performances are urgent and completely in keeping with the musical soundscape surrounding them. It’s such a great song that I am left scratching my head, wondering why the rest of the album couldn’t have been more like this.

Elsewhere, I like the opening and closing sections of the title track, and the second half of ‘Sands Of Yakuzia’ from around the 4:30 mark is mind blowing. The combination of epic intent, strong melodies, excellent bass playing, the electronic narration vocals, it all comes together to create something incredibly special. I’m also a fan of the melodies and wailing guitars within the latter stages of the closing song, ‘The Supreme Being’. Again, I ask, why couldn’t more of the entire album be like this?

And that’s the conclusion from me – ‘The Blue Dawn’ is a nice record, with lots to recommend and lots to enjoy. I have absolutely no doubt that there will be many people who vehemently disagree with my review because the album is nectar to their ears. But I have to be honest and Odd Dimension really frustrate me here because when they’re hot, they’re on fire. An entire album in a similar vein to ‘Life Creators’ and the instrumental pieces, and it might have been pushing towards the stratosphere. As it is, ‘The Blue Dawn’ is a good record. It’s magical in places, but not enough to elevate it higher in my estimations. Nevertheless, I shall still look forward to hearing the next album to see what they produce.

The Score of Much Metal: 78%

Further reviews from 2021:

Darkthrone – Eternal Hails

Thy Catafalque – Vadak

Terra Odium – Ne Plus Ultra

Hiraes – Solitary

Eye Of Purgatory – The Lighthouse

Crowne – Kings In The North

Desaster – Churches Without Saints

Helloween – Helloween

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

Wooden Veins – In Finitude

Plaguestorm – Purifying Fire

Drift Into Black – Patterns Of Light

Alluvial – Sarcoma

White Moth Black Butterfly – The Cost Of Dreaming – Album Review

Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen

Bloodbound – Creatures From The Dark Realm

Nahaya – Vital Alchemy

Frost* – Day And Age

Obsolete Theory – Downfall

Vola – Witness

Acolyte – Entropy

Dordeduh – Har

Subterranean Masquerade – Mountain Fever

Seth – La Morsure Du Christ

The Circle – Metamorphosis

Nordjevel – Fenriir

Vreid – Wild North West

Temtris – Ritual Warfare

Astrakhan – A Slow Ride Towards Death

Akiavel – Vae Victis

Gojira – Fortitude

Hideous Divinity – LV-426

Benthos – II

Evile – Hell Unleashed

Ninkharsag – The Dread March Of Solemn Gods

Bodom After Midnight – Paint The Sky With Blood

Morrigu – In Turbulence

Mother Of All – Age Of The Solipsist

Throne – Pestilent Dawn

Sweet Oblivion (Geoff Tate) – Relentless

Exanimis – Marionnettiste

Dvne – Etemen Ænka

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Arion – Vultures Die Alone

Maestitium – Tale Of The Endless

Wode – Burn In Many Mirrors

Everdawn – Cleopatra

Unflesh – Inhumation

Mourning Dawn – Dead End Euphoria

Wheel – Resident Human

Wythersake – Antiquity

Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn

Metalite – A Virtual World

Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm

Ghosts Of Atlantis – 3.6.2.4

Memoriam – To The End

Aversed – Impermanent

Secret Sphere – Lifeblood

Enforced – Kill Grid

Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3

Turbulence – Frontal

Iotunn – Access All Worlds

Warrior Path – The Mad King

Stortregn – Impermanence

Mariana’s Rest – Fata Morgana

Orden Ogan – Final Days

Witherfall – Curse Of Autumn

Plague Weaver – Ascendant Blasphemy

Ephemerald – Between The Glimpses Of Hope

Paranorm – Empyrean

Einherjer – North Star

Epica – Omega

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde

Simulacrum – Genesis

Forhist – Forhist

Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix

Empyrium – Über den Sternen

Moonspell – Hermitage

Infernalizer – The Ugly Truth

Temperance – Melodies Of Green And Blue EP

Malice Divine – Malice Divine

Revulsion – Revulsion

Demon King – The Final Tyranny EP

Dragony – Viribus Unitis

Soen – Imperial

Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida

Oceana – The Pattern

Therion – Leviathan

Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound

Asphyx – Necroceros

W.E.T. – Retransmission

Labyrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus

TDW – The Days The Clock Stopped

Need – Norchestrion: A Song For The End

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

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s