Twilight Odyssey - Twilight Odyssey - 2005 - Self Released
I had been reading quite a bit of great press on New York's Twilight Odyssey in 2005. Being the curious and exploring metal fan and listener that I am, I managed to track down some information regarding the group over the summer. Soon I had this treasured package within my filthy paws, the golden, intricate artwork within my grasp. On my journey from the mailbox to the drive I knew, I just knew, that this would be something truly special. And it is...
Those of you who hear this band title may think progressive metal. I certainly did at first, but with more swims in the deep you will soon realize that this band is beyond that, never quite getting off the traditional paths to experiment quite that much. At times the arrangements could be construed or even accepted as progressive music, but in my opinion there is entirely too much unbridled power here, a focus and determination to blow up the bridges and completely disassociate themselves from those types of patterns. Instead what we have here is a full length record that is completely filled with melody, emotion, powerful vocals, perfect band chemistry, and epic songwriting and storytelling. The end result is just an awe inspiring, stunning vision that leaves the listener with something to believe in, someone to believe in as today's heavy music turns more violent and hostile with every "suit and tie" release, a cookie cutter market where nothing stands on it's own. This band is different.
Talented frontwoman P.J. Berlinghof is the leading force here, her soothing and aggressive vocals just completely overwhelming at times, the perfect voice to this bold endeavor. At times her voice just explodes, a furious, fire filled velocity that leaves nothing in it's wake. Never becoming as stale or dated as a death metal singer, no, Berlinghof uses masterful clean vocals in a public display of command and superiority. Her voice can take on a more soothing tone as well, with her register almost as soft as Pat Benatar at times. But beyond the obvious vocal positives comes the amazing guitar performance courtesy of Ben Asaro. His twin guitar effect is just awesome, a breathtaking affair that creeps and crawls to create atmosphere and drama. His solos are soaring, sky scorching in their ability to take the material to new levels of emotion. Asaro also teams up with Berlinghof to write most of the tracks found here, perfectly penned pieces that actually tell stories and convey a theme or message.
With strong, phenomenal cuts like "Zero Hour" and "Defiler" the band showcase a rare ability to sound seasoned and aged. That really isn't the case however, with this album being the very first of the band's career. The group originally started playing together in 2002, with their first gig opening for Angra in New York. Since then the band have made debut appearances at March Metal Meltdown V, Classic Metal Fest III, and Metal Mind Rage 2, and drew over 150,000 unique users to their independent web site in 2004. Now the band have just released this ten track debut record, independently with help from Hellion Records in Germany as a distributor.
It is really hard to pick out a favorite among this fantastic material, but I really find myself playing "Plaza de Toros" and "The Endless Days Of A Stranger" quite often. In fact this whole record hasn't really left my car or home stereo all summer. While faster songs like the two above are wicked delights, slower tracks like "Near Dark" are just as compelling, really a dark fantasy unveiled through the magic and mystery of this act's music. At times bands like Iron Maiden certainly come to mind, but I can hear everything from Dio and Rainbow to Scorpions and Judas Priest as an obvious influence.
Twilight Odyssey are really their own band, completely wrapped up in their own identity, something very strange and odd in today's modern music scene, a stale segment of time that seems to have an identity crisis, a lack of originality that is hurting the long term audience. These New Yorkers are completely fresh, a brand new set of ideas and a gameplan to scavenge the 80s battlefields, picking up a torn denim jacket here and a back patch or two over there. They gather what they need, make all of the proper arrangements, and before long they have the keys to the kingdom, a full gated spectacle that is their's and their's alone. This is Twilight Odyssey, this is their debut creation, and this is really how metal music should be played. This is the blueprints, they are laying within easy grasp, almost as if saying to the other bands, "If we can do it, you can do it".