ODEM – The Valley of Cut Tongues

You see that logo on the right? Ahem, the other one. That’s Daemon Worship Productions’s official license to “spread audial and visual plague and blasphemy upon mankind.” If you aren’t familiar with this label, you’re really missing out – big time. Over the last year or so, DWP has been quietly releasing some of the highest quality black and death records on the planet. In fact, Svartidaudi debut full length, Flesh Cathedral, was without a doubt, one of the most compelling releases of last year. And it just so happens that Svartidaudi are big admirers of what is probably the best kept secret in all of Russia next to nuclear launch codes (but just as deadly), ODEM. Who? Yes, O-D-E-M. The project was born in St. Petersburg circa 2008 after a split up of their prior band, Deviant Prophet. It took two full years for these mad Ruskies to regroup and record a proper full length under the moniker ODEM entitled Rape Your God and Pray for Reprieve. Not so great album titles aside, this is a beast of a debut with pungent rawness reminiscent of Deathspell Omega but rooted more in death than black, like Behemoth or even Portal.

It’s friggin January and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but ODEM’s new EP, The Valley of Cut Tongues, is the standard in which all EPs will be judged for the rest the year. It’s that good. This little gem consists of four tasty morsels with the first track a re-record of one of the best tracks (if not the best) off Reprieve. Even though ODEM’s music exudes the complexity of Deathspell Omega or Svartidaudi, they are still very much rooted in the riff. ODEM knows exactly when to extend an olive branch amidst the technical wizardry and dizzying dissonance to keep your finger from ever fondling (audiophiles are lonely creatures) the next track button.

As I said before, opener “Nails as the Weapon of Hatred” is as the song’s sub-text describes, a re-recorded track that appeared on their debut. The original recording was much more raw and unpolished which is a genre trademark. Yet despite the cleaner production, this song really has a lot more impact now since S.N.’s guitars are clearer and K.H.’s vocals are no longer completely drowned out by the mix. Regardless, this tune absolutely rips with a killer breakdown that really cuts through the chaos like butter.

“Cult of Flesh” does not let up the onslaught, with an immediate pummeling of blast beasts and S.N.’s amazing guitar work. There is an added vocal effect where K.H. seems to be screaming into some wind chamber which provides some atmospheric sheen. Very creative. The riffs here are fantastic with a short break in the mid-section for a neat guitar solo before the song resets itself to its original introductory theme. My favorite track and absolute highlight is “Healing Catalepsy” which is similar in vein to “Cult of Flesh,” but with a very sinister sounding riff that provides the backbone for the entire track. “Satanskin” ends our short journey with a whirlwind of guitars and drums. Toward the latter half of this song I felt as if the whole band was drawing in wind to fuel their aural vortex – destination, oblivion.

The Valley of Cut Tongues was engineered and mastered by Konstantin Dolganov of SIC_SOUND. Given that this is blackened death, I suspected dynamics would only get successively worse with each release. Not so. Despite the copious of use of compression, this release is a big improvement in overall sound from their prior outing. As you’re probably not surprised, this is a guitar driven mix with drums set back. K.H.’s vocal performance is stellar and the mix helps to balance the cacophony of sound around him. Though sounding a bit less raw then their debut, it feels edger simply because the music is just clearer. By biggest gripe is that the bass is pretty much non-existent (no surprise here), which is a damn shame since it could add even more weight to an already hefty release. But regardless, I am very happy to see ODEM improve the overall quality of reproduction from their debut.

If you loved last year’s Drought release, you need to mark March 1st down on your calendar and run to DWP’s Bandcamp page when The Valley of Cut Tongues is finally unleashed on this poor world. If you love blackened death metal with a penchant for infectious yet sinister riffage, again, this is your EP. ODEM is really one of Russia’s best extreme metal outfits and you owe it to yourself to check them out. Highly recommended.

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