In terms of musical relativity, seven years is a long time for a band to be off the scene. However, we could not be happier that The Odious are making a return to the progressive metal scene, with their new album Vesica Piscis, and are proud to welcome them as our Weekly Featured Artist. The Odious‘ last album Joint Ventures came out in 2012, and at a time when bands like Between The Buried And Me and SikTh were being hyped beyond belief, The Odious managed to stand their album alongside these titans. Joint Ventures is such an interesting, and enjoyable piece of work, thanks to the memorable and exceptionally heavy riffs, the hilarious use of samples, and of course – the avant-garde nature of the album.
Before Joint Ventures, they also put their name to That Night a Forest Grew, a debut EP, which really captures the full capacity the band has to offer. Some might say it’s more jazz-metal than its successor and launches more often into furious death metal influenced segments, however. An underlying theme in all of The Odious‘ songs is the groove, with the band breaking out into some really fat riffs, multiple times per song. These riffs are so fat, that they make you funk-out on the spot, wherever you are.
Back to the present, and we were graced with the news that The Odious would be sharing their long-awaited album Vesica Piscis with the world on June 21. The final installment in a trilogy of themed albums, this new record promises to build on their achievements over the last decade.
Anyway, enough of the formalities, let us get down to the interview section of this feature. We managed to get answers from three of the members, and it is my absolute pleasure to have spoken to Spencer Linn, Patrick Jobe and Jeremy Klein. The first thing we checked in on was what the band had been up to for 7 years, and how the line-up might’ve changed.
Spencer: ‘The band pretty much imploded in 2014. A culmination of rather tragic events led to us taking a hiatus. It was a bitter pill to swallow, because the hype surrounding JV was at its peak. I started hanging out and jamming with Garrett Haag (drums) regularly and he is the one who got me fired up about the band again. Without him, it’s safe to say there would be no album. His brother, Austin, is an incredible bass player and started to join in on these sessions.
We started recording, DIY as usual, with Jeremy Klein, our original drummer at the production helm, this time determined to get live drums on the album. With Patrick back in action on vocals around 2017, we had a renewed lineup: me playing guitar and singing, Patty with the lead vocals, and the Haag brothers holding down the rhythm section.’
Patrick: ‘Seven years is ridiculously long. After we dropped JV, we were playing shows with a new line up for a time, but sometimes life has of habit of not turning out how you think it will, and that kinda led us on different paths for a while. Not working together for the first time since grade school sucked ass. I was definitely miserable for a while.
Yet, there was a point where it became clear to us that we needed to make Vesica Piscis a reality. So we worked super fucking hard, not only on writing and recording this album, but also trying to mature emotionally as a group. I think the primary reason VP is so meaningful to all of us is because we really thought it wasn’t going to happen. And now we’re here, giving an interview to promote the album. I’m just super fucking grateful.’
The new album Vesica Piscis has not only a strange name, but very different artwork to their previous outings, which had quite psychedelic covers. We asked about the direction they took with both aspects.
P: ‘So the name Vesica Piscis is in reference to a shape that basically looks like a Venn diagram, with the two intersecting circles. It’s definitely super recognizable, but at the same time, it is also very ambiguous. We came to find out that this symbol is has been utilized in some fashion by practically every civilization – with countless different purposes and applications in math, art, architecture, science, religion, and much more, and we we’re super interested not just by its sheer prevalence, but also how these meanings conflict as well. We see it as the best possible symbol to embody existence as a whole, and a fitting way to conclude the larger concept behind our trilogy, which was always meant to serve as a lens into the nature of humanity (while the Vesica Piscis itself is meant to symbolize a literal lens as well).
As far as the album art goes, that was done by our friend Aaron (at diet.doom, go check him out), who is actually one of the original members of The Odious. We were talking about album art way in advance and he told us that he would whip something up for us, and right when we saw it we knew it was perfect. We decided to go for a more minimalistic style, and less psychedelic.’
As mentioned multiple times already, seven years is a long time! People change, influences shift sharply and of course, people get much better at their instruments – we found out what changes to expect from Vesica Piscis.
S:‘I maintained a healthy diet of Meshuggah and Opeth, of course, but I really started branching out deeper into hip-hop, jazz and RnB as far as my regular listening habits went. I also got much deeper into dissonant death metal, ala Ulcerate, Gorguts, Baring Teeth, etc. There is so much incredible music out there! Influences are everywhere you turn, and certainly not just in the metal genre.
This album, for me, is all about emotional catharsis. The build-up and release that we all experience to varying degrees. It is very overwhelming to listen to at times because it contains a lot of painful memories. Ultimately, however, it is a positive musical force, taking negative feelings and turning them into something triumphant.
I would say the songwriting is a little more focused, while still trying to maintain that free-wheeling, stream of conscious vibe we established with our previous releases. I really wanted to strike a balance between schizo riffage and memorable song structures.’
P: ‘To me, VP is a natural continuation of the styles and themes explored in our previous releases, but with the best production so far in our discography! Mainly we wanted to sufficiently spice things up, while still sticking to the foundational continuity of the trilogy.’
When you listen to Joint Ventures and That Night A Forest Grew, you’ll find yourself swimming in riffs. We drilled down into gear changes that might amplify the groove and found out what we can expect on the riff front this time around.
S: ‘Oh, the groove is still abundant. Maybe even more so this time around. I recorded this album with an Ibanez RGD Prestige, which was definitely a step up for me.’
Jeremy: ‘The guitars are made from a software amp simulator. Since Joint Ventures, we’ve collectively all worked on a lot on different styles of music and learned how to use a bunch of audio software that you don’t typically hear on metal productions. So we hope the unorthodox ‘software’ gear used on this album makes the tones not only better, but also unique.’
I’ve always been a fan of well-employed samples, and The Odious are pack-leaders at dropping hilarious or very suitable samples into their songs. We wanted to find out their selection process for the samples and how they decide where to place them.
P: ‘We were kind of laughing the other day about the sample thing. Basically, when it comes to our samples, we’ll either have them planned YEARS in advance, or we’ll literally pick them the day of. The intro song on our album throws a little of both in there, and is actually the only song on the album with samples.’
S: ‘Yeah the opening track has an album’s worth of samples on it. But that is certainly something we intend on keeping in our music and expanding upon in the future.’
One of the striking features of the band is the obscene variation in vocal styles. Channeling the madness of Mr Bungle in metal vocals, you hear the band screeching at each other like witches over a cauldron at times. We wanted to find out how they pulled this off.
P:‘Someone gets it! Haha. Basically, we’ve determined the best way to get good original vocal sounds is to get super fucking loose in the vocal booth, and then try pretending to be some crazy fictional character while you’re recording them, because it helps you make sounds that you would never think of.’
Looking at the upcoming album as a whole, we wanted to find out more about the concept behind this album, and indeed the triage of records.
P: ‘I think one notable thing people should know going into the album is that there is a smaller narrative concept at play behind the scenes. Of course, anyone can listen in any order they choose, and we made each individual song digestible on its own for that reason. However – especially for first-time listeners of Vesica Piscis – I highly, HIGHLY recommend putting aside at least an hour, sitting down, putting on some good headphones, and listening to the entire thing from start to finish.
As said before, the album is meant to give the average listener a 3rd person vantage point over the human condition. Yet, within the album, there is an audible narrative that follows an unnamed person, as they experience this vantage point for THEIR first time. Anyone listening to Vesica Piscis is effectively listening in on that process. Plainly said: this concept revolves around this person sitting down, turning on their TV, and watching humanity unfold, in all its pain and glory. Every song that plays is another sonic representation of what he is watching on his screen, and what he is watching… is us.’
For people like me, stranded in ‘global’ Britain, tour news from US-based bands is always of interest. We checked in to see if they’d be hitting the circuit, or keeping it local for the album release.
S: ‘Most likely keeping it local and moving from there. We are also weighing our options as far as a second guitarist goes. We would love to tour though!’
With that last comment in mind, we asked which bands they’d love to get out on the road with.
S: ‘It would be rad to tour with Animosity and The Red Chord, in a dream world.’
P: ‘Death Grips, Ariana Grande, Car Bomb, Flatbush Zombies, Psyopus, Ghostemane, Glass Animals, Kanye, KAYTRANADA, Code Orange, SikTh, and Frontierer.’
And finally – next steps for the band. Would we see another Tool-esqe absence?
P: ‘More music, period.’
S: ‘Make up for time lost. Write, record, release more music ASAP.’
So there you have it! If you weren’t already excited about Vesica Piscis, then I bet you will be preparing for the June 21 release from this incredibly exciting band now! Make sure to give The Odious a follow on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, before heading over to their Bandcamp to get a bead on their previous releases. We’ll leave you there, thank you for reading, and thank you to The Odious for being our Weekly Featured Artist!