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Friday, February 3, 2023

Review: Wothrosch – Odium

Label: Hammerheart Records

Date: January 13th, 2023

Is this the first release set for the next year that I’m writing about? I honestly cannot remember if there were any prior to what is likely the first release for the year on the ever-expanding Hammerheart Records roster. What’s more, two of my favourite “outsider” countries on the extreme metal scene have joined forces. The Dutch label and the band from Greece. There was really no way this could go wrong.

In reality, sure there were ways in which this could’ve turned into at least a mediocre record that will have no effect whatsoever on your trusted reviewer. Thankfully, it didn’t. I’m as happy as I could be under the circumstances, plus Wothrosch turned out to be an exciting debutant with a record that could cause quite a few waves amidst the extreme fans.

But first, let me assure you a bit more. Despite what you read below, you need to remember at all times that “Odium” is an incredibly coherent record. Homogenous through and through. Also, do not forget that this is the debutant from Athens. This is their first recording, though I suspect some serious experience within their ranks. There’s just no way a complete newcomer can come up with this level of expertise when it comes to creation, arrangements, volume and full body of music.

So, why do I feel the need to keep you focused on the words I’m about to scribble down? Here’s why. Wothrosch combines everything, mixes it all together and blends beyond recognition, into a tasty, milkshake-alike, dense substance. Namely, Greek black metal (thank you captain obvious), Greek death metal (yup, Dead Congregation, I’m looking at you), Nordic black metal of the early twenty first century, modern Greek black metal (nope, not quite the same stuff I mentioned above), doomy death metal ala Incantation, ritualistic death metal (Necros Christos, naturally), dissonant black metal, blackened death metal (Belphegor), black metal of the new generation (Mgla and their likes)… This could go on for some time, but instead just read the previous paragraph once again. And now you know what Wothrosch is all about.

Now, I cannot quite be absolutely certain, but “Odium” might also be a concept record. Judging by the one word title to each song, all of them holding a somewhat sinister meaning. Aside of the opener, titled “Child”. Then again, it is closely followed by one that is called “Tumor” and another lovingly dubbed “Disease”, so nothing is neat as a fairytale on this record. Then again, the music on the album is such a twisted mess that the lyrics (haven’t gotten them, nor am I able to understand enough, sorry) can be nothing but an expression of an unsettled mind hanging loosely from the ledge of surgical cleanliness, not unlike an asylum.

On the flipnote, as is common to a lot of artists striving for unification of various genres, Wothrosch falls victim to the lack of clear goal in sight. Like they are striving for a place under the sun, but it is a bright shining (almost forgot to say, Niklas Kvartforth is the guest vocalist on “Mass”) day in Athens, so there’s sun everywhere and they cannot quite make up their minds whether to sit here or there and soak it all in. So, they waste all the time away trying to make the final decision. In other words, the above mentioned blend that the Greeks look to achieve is there, but it turns into such a massive mixture of tastes that it is hard to focus on the whole while in any given moment one or the other ever-so-slightly takes to the surface.

Some would easily say that there are just too many details that deter you from absolute hammering of “Odium” as a whole. I can agree, at least to some extent. Of course, you cannot really expect to immerse yourself into the complexity of such a record if you’re going to give it a spin or two. No way! I’m going to and fro this release for a couple of weeks now. I hated it, then I loved it, then just used it as background noise while reading a book or fixing a meal. I spun it to differing moods, to differing effects. It was a rollercoaster to get to writing this review.

Still, I can vouch now that this is a strong outing for a newborn band. Finesse should come with age, as should the identity and the said goal when it comes to totality of soundscape to present as a finished product. Wothrosch, at this point, has both feet on the right path. Just pick a lane and start walking.