Odyrmos – Odyrmos Review

“Blackened ambient dungeon synth”—thus read the descriptor for this promo. “Sounds fun,” I thought, even if it meant enjoying it ironically. Odyrmos are quite serious, however. Their name means “heavy lament,” and their chosen medium with which to express this is, oddly, a combination of melodic black metal and medieval dungeon synth. Ostensibly, this is the one-man project (of course) of Andrew Tsekrekos, though this album does introduce a new vocalist into the mix. Whether something was lost in translation there, the abstract emotionality of black metal, infused with shimmering dungeon synth, should speak for itself. I say “should,” because much to my dismay, Odyrmos does not deliver the affecting experience or drama it promises.

When I was at school, I was taught not to use the word “nice,” because there are always better adjectives. Sometimes, however, “nice” is just the word. Odyrmos is nice—pleasant, but in a placid, mundane way. The dungeon synth, shining mostly on segregated tracks (“Silver Stars,” “Nostalgia”), is pretty enough, but painfully plain. Likewise, the approach to black metal—slow to mid-tempo, with gentle medieval tunes—is certainly agreeable to the ears. Yet it is too tame to incite anything in the listener other than absent-minded humming along. This is fine, and indeed, there are elements of intrigue in some starlit corners of the album that break the dozy spell. The problem is that the anodyne tone dominates to the extent that it saps the music’s power.

Odyrmos‘ main issue is its reticence to evolve. While reverb-laden refrains (“As the Light Fades,” “Beneath a Mourning Sky”) hold a sweetly understated mournfulness, their persistence—for the most part—in the same few notes and ambling pace does become dull. High points are thus when Odyrmos breaks out of the pattern. When the drums, and vocals surge and harpsichord synth melts into the guitar at the close of “Dawn of a New Journey.” When rhythmically-delivered vocals and reverberating solo tremolo create a grand atmosphere on “An Ominous Journey.” When synth spookily warps guitar on “The Night After the Ritual.” These are glimpses of the haunting, even stirring atmosphere that could make for a strong record if it were consistent. It is lamentable that such glimmers either dissolve into or are preceded by strenuous repetition (“Dawn of a New Journey,” “The Night After the Ritual”). “An Ominous Journey” is an exception, and likely the best cut of the bunch, effectively communicating a sense of longing. It is perhaps no coincidence that this track is also the most ambient, as Odyrmos seem to play better when the dungeon synth really is fused with the black metal. Though relatively unambitious, intro “The Birth of a Melancholic Ode” and closer “Nostalgia” quite successfully craft that fantasy-land vibe with dreamy synths and fluttering tremolos.

While tame, and eventually predictable, Odyrmos is by no means a chore to listen to. It may not, at least not consistently, do what it sets out to—create a sense of sadness—but that’s ok. The escalating ending of “Dawn of a New Journey,” and the dark tone of “An Ominous Journey” are strong in their own right, and I’ll still be humming along the whole album through. The (for black metal) spacious production keeps drums, guitars, and vocals relatively evenly distributed, which helps lend the music a clear enough sound for easy, even background listening. One strange exception to this are the vocals on “The Night After the Ritual,” which briefly dip into a low gurgle that’s unpleasantly muddied. Outside of this, Forest “Tephomab” Raible’s shrieks are on the palatable side of raw black metal; quite satisfyingly throaty. There are definitely worse ways, just within the realms of black metal, to spend roughly forty minutes of your time.

One might normally go to black metal for its rawness, intensity, or atmosphere; to dungeon synth for its enchanting ambience. Odyrmos lies closer to the latter tone, but does not sustain its intrigue nor infuse its blackened elements with a like degree of emotionality. At their best, Odyrmos demonstrate the potential to craft sweet, spooky sadness. As it stands, they’ve just made something ‘nice,’ which isn’t quite what they intended.

Rating: Mixed
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Belfry Records
Websites: odyrmos.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/odyrmos
Releases Worldwide: July 15th, 2022

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