Many of us at AngryMetalGuy.com make no effort to hide the fact that we love music that falls just off the beaten path. A good way to get mine and others’ attention is to name-drop The Mars Volta and King Crimson in a promo blurb: I’m immediately like a small child accepting candy from a stranger. In this case, the candy is Danish band Odd Palace, and their debut album Things to Place on the Moon. There are damned lofty expectations associated with those name-drops, since the Crim are my favorite band ever in history. However, since there’s been more versions of that band than I’ve had hot meals, I have no idea what elements will serve as Odd Palace influences. So I’m curious, hopeful, nervous, and leery all at once.
The first thing that becomes obvious with opening track “Carnivore” is the fact that Odd Palace may be influenced by the quirkiest of bands, but they’re intent on adding a melodic commercial overtone to the proceedings. “Carnivore” has an off-kilter, menacing bridge, but for the most part is a radio-friendly alt-metal number. It’s catchy and groovy, though, and not at all unappealing. “Liar’s Attire” brings to the fore another of the band’s influences in Protest the Hero, with its intricate opening, but when the vocals enter, the song could be a close relative of Zedi Forder. It’s clear that while the band may go off on musically enchanting tangents, the vocal melodies and choruses are real earworms, and keep the songs firmly grounded in commercial accessibility, despite the occasionally bizarre breakdowns and effects.
The Mars Volta influence is clear, although that band’s insane edge has been dulled here. The excellent cut “Insomnia” brings this influence to the fore. We still get very intricate moments scattered through many songs – the bass line in “Through Your Eyes,” along with the bridge and solos throughout the album – but not to the sometimes attention-losing degree of Rodriguez-Lopez and company. The back-half of the album gets the strangest, including the title track, the aforementioned “Insomnia,” and “The Alchamist,” all of which provide plenty of musical adventurousness and are less commercial than the opening songs.
I can’t say too much negative or constructively critical about Things to Place on the Moon. The band’s influences are merely that: influences. Nothing on the album is as crazy or off-script as King Crimson (that band’s influence is found primarily in the Fripp-like guitar effects and soundscapes that underlie many of the songs), nor as noodly as Protest the Hero. The more apt way to think of Odd Palace is a band that writes catchy commercial metal that has plenty of moments that call for a closer listen just to figure out what rabbit hole the band almost goes down. And the Chris Kreutzfeldt (CABAL) production brings plenty of punch and refinement to the performances.
The elite amongst us may chafe at the idea of listening to music that those less trve might also enjoy, but the fact is Odd Palace have crafted an album that ably straddles the line between commercialism and complexity. The vocal melodies combined with the excellent musicianship means every song on Things to Place on the Moon is worth listening to. While the band doesn’t wear its influences on its sleeve to the degree I thought they would, the tasteful prog mix they’ve come up with has pleased me. Maybe it’s the time of year: last June Zedi Forder got a lot of airplay as well. Light up the Hibachi and enjoy deeply of Odd Palace on the warm summer nights.