Octillian - Umbilicus review


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Band: Octillian
Album: Umbilicus
Website: http://www.octillian.com/
Release date: June 2009

01. The Golden Spine
02. Alberts Gone Fishing
03. Softly Sour In The Marble Forest
04. Gesture From A Jester
05. In Loving Memory Of An Absent Mind
06. Happiness
07. Part 3
08. Symphologue

Progressive - now there's a word that's about as attractive to me as a financial audit followed by a full rectal examination. However, when it is done properly like Octillian's Umbilicus, the experience is a pleasing, diverse tapestry; pulling different sounds and textures from all across the map.

Upon first listen, Calgary's Octillian sounds like a weak knock-off of Opeth's more mellow moments. This album is truly progressive right from the beginning though - the start of the album tends to be a bit derivative and aimless in the song writing, as the album plays through you can hear the band become stronger in almost every aspect. Both the guitars and bass become more experimental as the album plays through, intentional or not this does make the album an interesting listen - knowing each song is going to be stronger than the last. I guess the best way to sum up how this band sounds is take a couple pounds of Pink Floyd, throw it in a blender with some tranquil Opeth passages, add some percussion tendencies not totally unlike that of Danny Carey, and then throw some blues, jazz and flamenco influenced guitar into the mix. The results can range from borderline masterpiece to sonic mess, but that is the respectable price to pay with experimentation.

Umbilicus does tend to fall into tendencies of what I generally dislike about prog. The most prominent being the common issue of having certain points where musical chemistry goes out the window while each member goes off into their own individual solos, creating a big virtuousic mess. Aside from the typical pretentious prog moments this album only has one major flaw; the vocals. While the vocals are well done, they show little to no variation at all. It is actually a real shame considering there is moments where the vocalist will branch out from his usual sorrow-filled type singing - so he obviously has the potential to do so - but for some odd reason refuses to do so for more than a few seconds.

Not a bad listen at all, satisfying progressive rock - plenty of skill and experimentation without being too ostentatious; a rare occurrence in a lot of prog rock being made today.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 10.10.2009 by Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.

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