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Love for meat and spuds - 77%

gasmask_colostomy, September 13th, 2017

Imagine you’ve just had a very stressful day (some of us have) and that you’re coming home to have your dinner. You’re tired, hungry, and just a little bit pissed off. It’s a fair bet that you don’t want to make small talk or invite anyone round to eat together, while anything that gets between you and your dinner will probably also be on the receiving end of your knife and fork. What do you want to eat? Again, it’s a fair bet that it won’t be anything too complicated, just something you can get your teeth into that will satisfy your appetite and your tastebuds. For simple folk – or just anyone proficient in stereotypes – chances are that your brain will have flicked up the image of meat and potatoes by now, with a big chop and some stodgy, safe spuds.

So, why are we talking about meat and potatoes? Because that’s the exact equivalent of listening to this album, bearing in mind that you’ll have to trade “dinner” for “heavy metal music” and “tastebuds” for “ears”, which shouldn’t be difficult for any devoted fan of the genre. And, you’ve guessed it, Odium’s music could easily be described as meat and potatoes metal, provided that thrashy meat is acceptable, since most of this meal is composed of bite-size chunks of mid-paced Germanic riffing that draws from the more workmanlike and melodic end of thrash. Perhaps the closest comparison is Paradox, compatriots of Odium whose reunion work since the turn of the millennium juxtaposes hard-hitting riffing, strained clean vocals, and a moody melodic sensibility in a combination that emphasizes memorability over heaviness or technicality, best witnessed on Collision Course. In some of the bold choruses and smoothed out choppiness here, elements of power and speed metal mediate the thrash, meaning that As the World Turns Black will hit the spot pretty easily, though without sacrificing too much weight.
 
The reason that this is such a satisfying album is because Odium get straight to it, basing almost every song around a few meaty riffs, a decent refrain, and enough passion to hook the listener, while disregarding anything even remotely outside the box. That means that nine songs smack straight into the glove one after the other: game over, job done. The production is important in making this all the more listenable, pushing the brunt of the guitars against the ears, allowing the drums to strike clearly through the crunchy riffing, and keeping the bass flowing nicely beneath it all to ensure strong momentum and impact. The structures, too, flirt with neither progressive influences nor pop sequencing, mostly introducing the song in about 30 seconds before settling down for riff-driven verses, a more climactic chorus, and enough instrumental time so that lead guitar fanatics won’t be too disappointed. The vocals are an improvement on the band’s previous effort The Science of Dying, Ralf Runkel managing to turn his hoarse cries into something stronger than before, though the lyrics are a letdown, cycling through all the most generic subjects about death, struggle, and revolution with no ear for cliché.

This straightforward approach obviously doesn’t make As the World Turns Black a candidate for album of the year, but it does mean that the songs form a remarkably consistent bunch. Aside from the more measured title track which includes clean verses, every song has riffs to remember, particularly opener 'The End of Everything', 'Inside the “Incubus' and the scorching 'Time Is a Killer', probably the quickest thing on offer. Despite the relative scarcity of solos for such a genre, the melodies in 'Revolution', 'Frozen World', and the title track are very potent, giving an extra degree of subtlety to otherwise simple songs, while the stirring choruses churned out by the likes of 'No Goodbye' and 'Blind' are sure to stay with you from the first listen. Sadly, 'Revolution' suffers the most from the nasty lyrics, trying to sell the refrain by continually shouting the title, which falls a bit flat, though that’s a minor low point in the middle of the album.
 
As a listening experience, As the World Turns Black certainly gets the job done, refusing to pause for breath and gaining power little by little as the momentum of the riffing builds up. Therefore, Odium’s consistency actually elevates this from being merely solid to good, similar to sitting down to high quality meat and potatoes, where the only real surprise is that you’re enjoying something so ordinary. The upside to that, of course, is that any metalhead who listens to this is going to be well satisfied as they lick the plate clean.

Originally written for The Metal Observer. Available at http://www.metal-observer.com/3.o/review/odium-world-turns-black/