There are several things that pop into my head as soon as the word ‘metalcore’ has been slowly absorbed by my brain, and most of them don’t place the sub-genre in a particularly good light. For whatever reason the very first thing I associate with metalcore is “vest”, the second is “breakdown”. The third word that floats around inside my fuzzy noggin is “generic”, but then again the millions of metalcore fans around the world seem pretty happy listening to varying minutely-altered variations on the same idea. Emerging from Birmingham, a city with a fruitful heavy music pedigree, five-piece metalcore outfit Odessa bring their own take on beatdowns and vest wearing in the form of debut full length Carry The Weight.
Odessa have only been a band for about three years, but what is instantly palpable is that these five Midland lads are extremely musically competent, eschewing versatile riffs and nuances that are often intrinsically melodic. Carry The Weight features polished production that metalcore of this type typically demands, albeit to the detriment of any notion of the term “organic”, leaving the drums sounding robotic and robbed of much of their dynamics. Synthetic as it may be, the polish means that breakdowns hit hard whilst more melodically inclined moments are delivered with clarity. One aspect that can not be doubted is the sincerity with which vocalist Richard delivers growled snippets of bleak emotional turmoil. “You’re a memory I won’t dwell on” he screams on ‘Animosity’, a track which showcases the band’s dynamic ability as they alter tempo, switching from fast riffs to half-time chuggathon with ease. Each song however, rumbles past with at least one obligatory breakdown thrown in for good measure; each mosh moment seemingly trying to outdo the one before.
Unfortunately for Odessa, every track on the album sounds like it could have been written and played by pretty much every other metalcore band; bar the ones who have now decided that placing plodding synth-lines over the top of breakdowns is a good idea. The band seems to posses little or no desire whatsoever to commit themselves to creating any inkling of a distinctive sound or personality. Instead, Carry The Weight plays like a checklist for metalcore clichés. Whether it be the odd song of heartfelt ‘clean’ vocals in the chorus in ‘Breaking Point’ & ‘Carry The Weight’, the uninspired recycled riffs or the now annoyingly commonplace “bleugh” sound countless vocalists now employ to announce the arrival of a particularly br00tal breakdown, such as the particularly heavy end of final track ‘Complications’. It’s a shame really, that a band who obviously possess dexterity with their instruments and such a passion for heavy music choose to focus so much energy on imitating their similarly uninspired peers rather than providing pathways for which the tiring sub-genre can hobble towards genuinely exciting musical avenues. They certainly deserve an ‘A’ for effort, but an ‘F’ for originality.
2.5 out of 5 high fives!