The Warmth Of Mediocrity ($3 Special)

"US band ODIN'S COURT have been around ever since 2001, with a good handful of productions to their name so far, and in terms of full length albums they have released six of them so far. Their most recent one, "The Warmth of Mediocrity", was issued through US label The RecordLabel.net's Progrock Records division towards the end of 2013.
While this is a full length album, I guess the majority would really sort this one as a compilation rather than a bonafide studio disc, as the greater majority of the songs have been pulled from old releases. But as these songs have been both remixed and to some extent remade as well, due to the addition of Dimetrius LaFavors as lead vocalist, this really is a new album even if much of the material have been available in other versions previously.

As far as style is concerned, Odin's Court is among those bands that venture back and forth across the border between the rock and metal part of the progressive universe, although the main emphasis appears to be on the latter of these. They explore, at least in recent years, a brand of progressive metal that explore the contrasts between grimy, gnarly dark toned guitar riff constructions and light toned, subtly exotic sounding keyboard textures, with ample room for movements of a more careful nature to alternate between the harder edged and more intense ones. The piano is employed for an additional delicate touch on several occasions, and what I presume to be digitally crafted orchestral backings also have their place in the material of this band. The dulcimer is also used to good effects to convey effects of a more careful nature within this landscape.

From what I can recall of their older material, it would appear that their new vocalist is a good addition to this band. There are still some issues with the vocals however. That there are songs here not written with the new vocalist and his particular voice in mind is a fact, and that some of the vocal parts comes across as somewhat odd in structure and execution both is a detrimental detail at times. As is the band's slight tendency to hit off in a dramatic, technically oriented run with quirky staccato riff bursts in asynchronous patterns, although this latter aspect probably has more to do with personal taste and not quite as much to do with stylistic expression and structure as such.

Personally I found the band to be most interesting when exploring territories of a more regular nature, with the remade version of Utopian Rust and the following instrumental Paradise Lost: Chapter 1 to be clear album highlights. The former a fairly traditional progressive metal creation sporting a fairly smooth, dark toned guitar riff and a fairly predictable but effective keyboard contrast as the dominant elements, with compelling harmony based guitar soloing and a nifty bass motif beneath that fits this song in this guise very well indeed. The latter of these two songs appears to be a case of progressive metal inspired by classical music, using orchestral details to supplement the guitars and organ that otherwise sets the mood and atmosphere. Opening and title track The Warmth of Mediocrity also warrants a mention, and again we're dealing with a more common variety of progressive metal with strong and distinct contrasts between guitar riffs and keyboards, majestic themes and a harmony based song in general expression and instrumental solo runs both.

All in all a somewhat uneven production as far as I'm concerned, where the most experimental numbers also comes across as the least inspired of the lot. But when Odin's Court starts exploring a more common and predictable variety of progressive metal, then they are going strong with all cylinders firing in a fitting, majestic manner. A band and an album worth taking a look at if you're curious of a band that are at their best exploring traditional progressive metal Dream Theater style, while also having a go at assembling compositions of a more challenging nature that may not be quite as appealing - all of this very much depending on personal taste admittedly." - ProgArchives

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Right from its start, Revelation and Mystery sees the four-piece layering guitar effects and infusing their parts with swirls and a spaced-out feel. It’s not that they’ve completely changed their methodology so much as they’ve shifted the balance within their sound. These structural elements were certainly present on Long-Distance Trip, but a cut like the semi-acoustic “Thirsty Moon” shows that Samasara Blues Experiment are able to work within these parameters to grow their songwriting. 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  • Lance King is out...replaced by Iced Earth's Matt Barlow."Formed in 2001, Danish power metal band Pyramaze has managed to maintain a fairly steady line up. However, there have been several recent changes to the vocalist position. After releasing two albums with Pyramaze, 2004's "Melancholy Beast" and 2006's "Legend of the Bone Carver," vocalist Lance King decided to step down. Pyramaze would find a surprising replacement in Matt Barlow, who stepped down from American power metal giant Iced Earth in 2001 to pursue a career in law enforcement. However, Barlow's stay in Pyramaze would be brief, as he was only used to record vocals on "Immortal" before reuniting with Iced Earth. Urban Breed is now the current vocalist for Pyramaze."Immortal" has a predictable, but interesting theme. Each song depicts a different form of immortality. Including the recount of the 300 Spartans gaining immortality both historically and mythologically during their legendary last stand at the battle of Thermopolea, to the horror of not being able to escape from a nightmare and a ghost that wanders for eternity. The theme also covers emotional subjects such as finding peace via suicide to suffering in hell and the never ending battle against the demons that plague us everyday. Though immortality has become a cliche in the power metal subgenre, Pyramaze has shown how diverse the theme of immortality can be.Stylistically, "Immortal" is intended to be a power metal epic, and it delivers. The main influences seem to be Iron Maiden and Iced Earth's "Horror Show" and are dominating throughout. Other influences that appear are the Kamelot inspired piano ballad "Legacy in Rhyme," the Children of Bodom keyboard tone and riff in "Ghost Light" and the King Diamond influenced "Touched by the Mara." Symphonic elements give the album a very epic sense. The opening track "Arise" and the closing track "March through an Endless Rain" sound like they could have come from the "Gladiator" or "300" movie soundtracks.The music on "Immortal" is quality symphonic power metal. Guitarist and mastermind Michael Kammeyer puts in an excellent performance with Matt Barlow showing that he hasn't lost a step and delivering a stand out performance. However, the use of some cheesy Dragonforce-esque guitar effects for a few solos along with some cheesy vocal melodies and overly simplistic riffs are my biggest criticism of the album. However, these complaints are nothing new, as every Pyramaze album to date has incorporated those elements. Even so, the cheesy elements are only a small portion of the album and don't take away from the overall epic feel. Overall, "Immortal" is a positive step for Pyramaze." - Metal Underground
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