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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  • "Accept's creative breakthrough, 1983's Restless and Wild, begins with one of the most unexpected, surprising, and hilarious mock intros ever recorded. Untold thousands no doubt furrowed their brows in confusion at the perky German folk song emanating from their speakers, only to be rudely interrupted by a scratching needle and Udo Dirkschneider's incomparable shriek, as the band launch themselves into the stunning violence of "Fast as a Shark." Not just a thrilling, light-speed juggernaut, the song was probably the last thrash metal prototype waxed in the pre-thrash era (officially inaugurated by Metallica's Kill 'Em All a few months later). Though nowhere near as frenetic, the title track and "Ahead of the Pack" are just as fierce, and despite a sudden stumble with the mediocre "Shake Your Heads" (an overtly cheesy, Judas Priest-style metal anthem, and the album's only stinker), the dramatic "Neon Nights" ends side one on the upswing once again. As for the album's second half, it's pretty much beyond reproach. Introduced by the solid "Get Ready" (another nod to Priest with its "Living After Midnight"-inspired drum intro), it builds from strength to strength with increasingly mature and melodic (though lyrically obscure) tracks such as "Flash Rockin' Man," "Don't Go Stealing My Soul Away," and the colossal "Princess of the Dawn." The latter closes the album as it began, in unexpected fashion, when its extended outro is abruptly interrupted mid-verse. The bottom line here is that this, like its successor Balls to the Wall, is an essential heavy metal album, and any fan worth his salt should own them both. But for the sake of first-time visitors, Restless and Wild is the slightly grittier, less melodic of the two. Whichever you chose, you can only win." - All Music Guide
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