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Album Reviews : Octanic – Aeternus Imperium

By on November 25, 2012

When listening to a band for the first time one of the most interesting things to hear, at least for this reviewer, is when artists are able to take a wide variety of influences and craft something completely new and different out of it. What makes Octanic’s 2012 albumAeternus Imperium somewhat interesting is that there are all sorts of influences evident in their music, yet ultimately it somehow comes across as just more of the same, rather than something new. For fans of a certain style of metal this release will likely hold a certain amount of value but this reviewer cannot help but feel like there is a lot of potential being wasted here.

Octanic’s general style is probably best categorised as melodic death metal with clear influence from the likes of Dark Tranquility, At the Gates, Children of Bodom and Soilwork ringing through. Plenty of mid-paced Gothenburg-style riffage and fairly laid-back drumming provides the backbone of the songs but it is the keyboards and vocals that are eminently the talking points of this album. Octanic’s keyboards could certainly be the feature of their sound that becomes something of a signature, both tonally and compositionally. The closest comparison would possibly be early-era Children of Bodom but this album certainly does some more interesting things with it, playing with everything from industrial to symphonic to the more lilting and melodic.

However, it is the vocals of Jay Shepherdson that are the most interesting ingredient in Octanic’s sound and likely to be the clutch or killer for most listeners. While the rest of the band takes such clear influence from the Gothenburg scene Shepherdson’s vocals seem like something of a cross between those of Devildriver, Slipknot, Killswitch Engage and Chimaira. With a voice rapidly switching between everything from gravelly shouting to rich, deep cleans to all out screaming the band certainly has a skilled frontman and one that adds an unexpected element to their sound. However, despite the fact that Shepherson is undoubtedly a superbly skilled and diverse vocalist, ultimately it is his performance that lets the album down due largely to the absolutely cringe-worthy lyrics.

Normally lyrics are not something that intrude on one’s enjoyment of a metal album too much (“you can’t even understand a word they’re saying!”) , but this is one of those exceptions. There seems to be a certain immaturity or unoriginality in the apparent need to just scream “Die! Die!” or “No! No! No! No!” that really cheapens the quality of the music. Fans of Slipknot or various metalcore bands may not mind this so much but for most others it may come across as a little annoying. This accompanies a more general cheesiness in the lyrics that spoils an otherwise enjoyable vocal performance.

Fans of Dark Tranquility, Children of Bodom, Devildriver or Killswitch Engage (or any of the other bands mentioned throughout) would probably be interested in checking these guys out. The band definitely has a neat sound going on even if it did not quite hit the spot for this reviewer- “The Mask of Hypocrisy” and “Solus” in particular are worth checking out. For anyone else, this album is probably just a little too much of the same with some rather annoying elements thrown in over the top. There is enough potential here to keep Octanic in mind going forward but this album did not quite make it.

Band: Octanic
Album: Aeternus Imperium
Year: 2012
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Label: none
www.facebook.com/octanic

Track List:
1. Aeternus Imperium
2. King for a Day
3. Addict
4. Deadworld
5. The Mask of Hypocrisy
6. Solus
7. Fear the Reaper
8. Pariah
9. Purging the Maelstrom
10. The Devil Pays Higher

About

Sam Maher is Metal Obsession's resident prog reviewer. He only likes songs that are at least 15 minutes long, contain 4 guitar solos and can only be described with a genre that is at least six words long. He also plays guitar for Sydney-based groovy melodic progressive technical death metal band Apparitions of Null.