Odious – Mirror of Vibrations
Label: Sleaszy Rider Records
Odious is an Egyptian band based in Alexandria, originally founded in 1998 as doom metal with Oriental and black metal influences. After completing their line-up, they put out a demo in 2000 which heralded their change into an Oriental black metal band. They re-released their demo as a purely OBM effort in 2003, which led to a deal with the oddly-misspelled Greek label Sleaszy Rider Records in 2005, who later released this full-length album, Mirror of Vibrations, in 2007. Their current line-up consists of Bassem Fakhri (vocals and keyboards), Rami Magdi (drums and tabla), Mohamed Hassen (lead guitars and oud), Mohamed Lameen (rhythm guitars), and Alfi Hayati (bass).
The music in Mirror of Vibrations has interesting interplay between eerie black metal and melodic Arabic influences, with excellent contrast between the first two tracks. They start with a beautiful and moving instrumental duet between guitar & oud, with ocean sound samples. This is followed by one of the most deceptive songs I’ve encountered. “Poems Hidden on Black Walls” starts out with a sample of a traditional Egyptian folk song, which then fades away into some creepy black metal, complete with haunting guitar work and evil laughter. The breakdowns in the song range from an Egyptian tabla dance beat to classic black metal. They switch styles often, using the western instruments for Oriental rhythms, which are hardly distinguishable to the untrained ear until they bring in the Arabic accompaniments. “Poems” sets the stage and precedent for most songs that follow it on this album.
Some have entire Arabic interludes, as in the ending of “For the Unknown is Horrid”, and “Invitation to Chaotic Revelation” perfectly melds unsettling black metal with the mournful sound of an oud. The songs that follow are gorgeous combinations of the emotion and melody built through the first five tracks, closing with the piano instrumental, “Dilemma”—melancholic with a palpable disconcerting edge, it sums up the feel of the entire album.
Most all instruments are felt and heard throughout each song; only the bass guitar tends to be less prominent. The vocals on this full-length are of the brutal black metal fare. My only critique is that they take a noticeable backseat to the music, and are even sometimes fully drowned, which is unfortunate since the lyrics are fascinating. Some songs are about past rulers of the region and others give you the feeling of a more personal narration. The exact theme is hard to describe, despite being in well-written English, but that doesn’t detract from enjoyment. Mirror of Vibrations is a must-have for any black metal fan.
Try: all tracks, in order.
01. Silver Sea
02. Poems Hidden On Black Walls
03. Deaf and Blind Witness
04. For the Unknown Is Horrid
05. Invitation to Chaotic Revelation
06. Smile In Vacuum Warnings
07. Split Punishment
08. Upon the Broken Wings