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(65.02, Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Uninvited Dreams 8:14 2. My Nightmare Is Scared of Me 10:24 3. Childmare 10:17 4. Lack Of Dreams 13:02 5. Is This Devil From Spain? 2:12 6. Is That Devil From Spain Too? 9:35 7. Neverending Dream 11:16 LINEUP: Lukasz Lisiak – bass; vocals Bartek Bereska – guitars Adam Podzimski – drums Rafal Paluszek – keyboards With: Natalia Krakowiak – vocals (4)
Prolusion. According to the band’s official biography, OSADA VIDA is the name of a legendary village in Benin, where people live in perfect harmony, and newborn babies are watched over by pythons. Hailing from Poland, they first got together in the late Nineties, and in the years 2000-2004 produced three albums that were never officially released. Their official debut album, “Three Seats behind a Triangle”, finally came about in 2007, followed by “The Body Parts Party” in 2008. “Uninvited Dreams” was released at the end of 2009 by the prolific Polish label Metal Mind Productions, which had also issued the band’s previous efforts.
Analysis. Osada Vida’s third release in as many years, and, like its predecessors, a concept album, “Uninvited Dreams” is based upon the disturbing, yet fascinating topic of nightmares - a subject matter that seems to crop up with some regularity in the output of many prog and metal bands. As intriguing as the topic might be, though, it is not the main attraction of this album, an offering that – very much in the way of fellow Polish band Riverside – straddles the often fine line dividing progressive metal from more traditional varieties of prog. Though not by any means an expert, in the past few months I have happened to review quite a few albums falling under the Neo-Prog definition, and obviously noticed how harder-edged influences are increasingly creeping into a genre that for years was seen as representing the more melodic and accessible end of the prog spectrum. Osada Vida, however, so much resemble the likes of Riverside (whose line-up parallels theirs) in their approach that they have often been lumped with the ever-growing contingent of prog-metal bands. In many ways, this would do the band a disservice, since the ‘metal’ component is only one ingredient of their musical output, which shows enough personal inspiration to allow them to stand out from the ever-growing crowd of modern prog bands. In tried-and-true prog fashion, keyboards are very much in evidence on “Uninvited Dreams”, providing most of the underlying structure for the band’s music, and working in perfect accord with the excellent rhythm section. The seven tracks on the album (with a single exception, all ranging from 8 to 13 minutes in length) flow smoothly and elegantly, showcasing the tightness of the band from an instrumental point of view. In the vocal department, however, things are not equally successful: bassist/vocalist Lukasz Lisiak, while clearly gifted as a four-stringer, possesses a largely undistinguished voice, heavily accented to boot, which somewhat detracts from the overall effectiveness of the songs. While listening to “Uninvited Dreams”, one almost yearns to hear a deep, velvety voice such as Riverside’s Mariusz Duda’s kick in, and transform the songs from merely good to genuinely arresting. As things stand, it would not be too unfair to state that the vocals prevent the album from reaching a level of real greatness. The lyrics are another weak point – something not uncommon for bands coming from outside the English-speaking area, which makes one wonder why they do not rather choose to use their native language (perhaps providing English translations of the lyrics in the CD booklet, or even on their website). There is enough complexity in the seven tracks to please most progressive rock fans, although it would be a stretch to call any of them innovative. As is the case with other modern Polish bands, Pink Floyd influences abound – as immediately shown by the guitar work in title-track, which is also the one closest to the Neo canon (especially as regards the catchy nature of the chorus, and the overall feel of accessibility). Things get definitely heavier in the following track, the quirkily-titled My Nightmare Is Scared of Me, with hard-edged riffs scattered all its ten-odd minutes, bolstered by energetic, often military-like drumming and dynamic keyboard work. Not surprisingly, this is the single item in which the Riverside comparisons are strongest. However, it is with Childmare that Osada Vida most clearly display their potential to become a household name in the world of progressive rock. Drums are used as the propulsive factor here, working almost in lockstep with the keyboards to produce a song that offers jazzy interludes as well as spacey, atmospheric passages intensified by moody guitar. The album’s longest song, Lack of Dreams, is not equally successful, mostly on account of its fragmented nature, with far too many abrupt changes in pace and mood to avoid a feeling of patchiness. Electronic effects, Pink Floyd references, Eastern-tinged guitar licks, majestic keyboards, as well as the more mainstream-oriented contribution of guest singer Natalia Krakowiak, point to a lack of compositional cohesion more than to genuine eclecticism. On the other hand, the two-part instrumental Is This Devil from Spain / Is That Devil from Spain Too starts promisingly, with acoustic guitar chords meant to evoke the titular Spain; then develops into a nicely uptempo, keyboard-driven piece, with some welcome jazzy touches here and there, as well as spacey guitar licks. Neverending Dreams brings the album to a close with an intriguing blend of heavy riffing, lush keyboards and a stately, almost somber, Floyd-inspired guitar coda – though, in my view, it might have been trimmed down a bit without any real loss. In spite of the occasional misgivings expressed in the previous paragraphs, as a whole “Uninvited Dreams” is a more than pleasing listen, and Osada Vida a band that shows a lot of promise. Personally, I believe the album would have worked even better as a somewhat shorter offering, dispensing with any padding and concentrating more on the actual songwriting. The band, however, seem to be on the right track as regards the evolution of their sound.
Conclusion. A very accomplished album, “Uninvited Dreams” is sure to appeal to most fans of progressive rock - unless they are irremediably stuck in a time warp, and shun anything that smacks of ‘modernity’. Though the weaknesses evidenced in the vocal and lyrical department prevent the album from getting a higher rating, Osada Vida are undeniably a quality act. If they manage to smooth away any remaining rough edges, they definitely have the potential to develop into a force to be reckoned with.
RB=Raffaella Berry: April 18, 2010
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