Coming from Alexandria in Egypt, we have an interesting band called Odious. The band was founded in 1998 originally as doom metal with oriental and black metal influences. After completing their line-up, they put out a demo in 2000 which heralded their change into an oriental black metal band. They re-released their demo as a purely oriental black metal effort in 2003. This eventually lead to them signing up with Sleazy Rider records from Greece in 2005 and releasing their full-length album, “Mirror of Vibrations,” in 2007. Their current line-up consists of: Bassem Fakhri (vocals and keyboards), Rami Magdi (drums and tabla), Mohamed Hassen (lead guitars and oud), Mohamed Lameen (rhythm guitars), and Alfi Hayati (bass).
The music in “Mirror of Vibrations” has a very interesting interplay between eerie black metal and melodic Arabic influences. They start us off with a very beautiful and moving instrumental that is a guitar and oud duet with a sound sample of waves at the beach played beforehand. This is followed by one of the most deceptive songs that I’ve come across. “Poems Hidden on Black Walls” starts out with a sample of a traditional Egyptian folk song which then fades away into some creepy black metal. Complete with haunting guitar work and evil laughter. The breakdowns in the song switches from an Egyptian tabla dance beat to classic black metal. They switch styles quite a bit, using the western instruments for oriental rhythms that are hardly distinguishable to the untrained ear until they bring in the Arabic accompaniments. This song sets the stage and precedent for most songs that follow it on this album. A few have entire Arabic interludes with the oud, tabla and keyboards as seen in the ending of “For the Unknown is Horrid.” Then we have “Invitation to Chaotic Revelation,” which is the first appearance of a perfect meld of disquieting black metal with the mournful sound of an oud on the album. The songs that follow are an almost impeccable combination of the emotion and melody that they were building with the first five tracks. The album closes with “Dilemma” which is a piano instrumental piece. The melody is the Western and Arabic exchange that has been present in every song. Melancholic with a palpable disconcerting edge to it which basically sums up the feel of the entire album. All instruments are felt and heard throughout each song though the bass guitar isn’t as well-spoken.
The vocals on this full-length are typical brutal black metal fare. My only critique is that they take a very noticeable back-seat to the music. It’s to a point where they are drowned out in some portions of songs and that is very unfortunate since the lyrics are fascinating. The lyrical theme is hard to describe despite being in well-written English. Some songs are about past rulers of the region and others give you the feeling of a more personal narration. In the end, I feel that it’s one short-coming doesn’t detract much from the wonderful music produced for this album. This is a must-have for any black metal fan.
Originally posted here.