Have you ever disliked the single for a new album, but then found yourself enthralled with the whole album? I felt that way about Inner Odyssey’s new album and their single “The Reckoning”. The album is called “The Void”, and it released on March 1st. It has proven to be an excellent, precise, purposeful experience.
Inner Odyssey comes from Quebec City. They have been around since about 2007, but this is my first time listening. The band consists of Étienne Doyon on lead vocals, percussion, and keyboards; Vincent Leboeuf Gadreau on guitar and vocals; Mathieu Cossette on keyboards and vocals; Alex Rancourt on bass and vocals; and Cédric Lepage on drums.
Inner Odyssey is usually grouped into the progressive metal spectrum, but they are so much more than that. This band does offer some satisfyingly modern guitar fireworks, and you will certainly hear influences like Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and other usual suspects. However, I would say that they are prone more to offering luscious space and colorful accents than to getting stuck on insatiable technicality. Much of their music revolves more around rock and even electronic notes, and the keyboards are quite strong in the mix. I would even say that the band is heavily influenced by the world of pop. In other words, the band has plenty of musical meat, but it is always balanced with waves of melody and calculated eccentricity.
One thing I immediately noted about this particular album is the influence from video games. While you won’t hear any specific tributes to popular video game scores, you will hear accents and notes that will feel oddly familiar if you are a gamer. Additionally, the album seems to have a concept based in entering the digital world, or at least it compares entering real life to starting a new game. I think it might also compare living an empty life with the blank stars of digital addiction, as well as including thoughts about God as compared to a gamer controlling a digital world. Many of the track titles have obvious nods, or perhaps cautions, to this, such as “Endgame”, “Nemesis”, and “Continue Without Saving”; and the lyrics are even more direct, mentioning “title screens”, “choosing characters”, etc. I’m interested in learning more about the overall concept.
As I mentioned above, I initially didn’t take to the single, “The Reckoning”. In fact, it might not have been my choice for a single. The song does rock pretty hard and that Rudess influence on keys is pretty apparent, and so maybe that was the band’s reasoning. It, however, has what I would call a jazzy vocal improvisation segment that caught me completely by surprise. Looking at the track now, I actually really like that section, and it all makes sense. It might not have been the best first dose, though.
The album has a knack for throwing curve balls like that, though, and you will find many pop elements strewn throughout the tracklist, too. “Overhanging”, one of my favorites, utilizes a heavy autotune on the vocals, making them feel digital and in sync with the story. That song is a bit of slow burn at first, but the second half really rockets into the stratosphere with some truly amazing keys and hefty riffs. I would also mention here that Cédric’s drumming is impeccable, and the virtuosity he provides on this track, and the whole album, is stunningly produced.
Another example of the pop elements would be in “The Void”. This track certainly has a modern pop beat to it, maybe even bordering on R&B, and it slowly increases the rhythm and vocal harmonies until a grand climax emerges. The synth near the end is one of the most colorful, beautiful parts of the album. This song isn’t metal at all, to be honest, and it is utterly brilliant.
While “Overhanging” and “The Void” are probably my favorite songs, the rest of the album is fantastic, as well. “Don’t Walk Away” is a ballad that has a wonderful acoustic atmosphere. “Nemesis” is a stunning instrumental track that reminds me of the personality and wonder of Joseph Magazine’s only album; it really does rock with strong vibrations, towering riffs, and powerful synth. The energy and electricity in the air near the end are really something to experience. “The Great Collapse” ends the album well with color and promise, really putting a finality on the whole affair.
One song that always throws me for a loop is “Endgame”. It again feels influenced by vocal jazz in its flamboyant, eccentric vocal lines paired with playful keyboard lines, but it combines that with some very melodic prog metal. It is also the track that has some of the most straightforward video game references, and they can feel a bit cheesy, though I think that is on purpose. I should mention that Alex’s bass is perfect here, and throughout the record, as he provides a foundation for the trippy, tongue-in-cheek moments.
I’m really enjoying “The Void”. This album hits so many flawless notes, and the climactic melodies and beautiful vocals really bring it all together. The album is focused, and the band knows how to experiment without getting too far from the game plan. It all feels so fresh and modern, never reveling in influences or clichés. I hope the band continues on this trajectory for future albums.
Find Inner Odyssey online: