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TRACK LIST: 1. Lords of Hate 8:18 2. Mothal 8:53 3. MUS 3:08 4. Don't Mind 6:39 5. Tarred Life 5:24 6. Mechanical-7 4:46 7. SandNess 9:58 8. SUM 7:07 LINEUP: Luca Vianini – guitars; synthesizers; drums; vocals Evan Mazzucchi – bass With: Ylenia Zenatti – vocals (2, 4)
Prolusion. The Italian band OUTOPSYA (an abbreviation of the expression Out of Psychical Activity) was formed in 2003, initially as an instrumental trio, but later on establishing itself as the creative vehicle of Mazzucchi and Vianini, where additional musicians and collaborators are brought in when needed. The band has several demo releases from previous years, but "SUM" is its official debut album, issued by the Italian VideoRadio label in the fall of 2009.
Analysis. In the twenty or so years that progressive metal has been acknowledged as a subset of music, it has been an often vital and inventive stylistic expression. Myriad bands have followed in the tracks of pioneering acts like Mercyful Fate, Fates Warning and Dream Theater, but others have opted to try to forge their own paths inside the jungle of compositional and musical possibilities. Outopsya is a nice addition to bands following such a creative calling. Describing their music is possibly even more challenging than listening to their material, however. Multiple excursions through their material still leaves me thinking: what the hell just happened? Their ever-changing and constantly evolving creations will take quite a lot of time to become familiar with, despite using trademark effects such as recurring themes and motifs to establish an identity and a creative red thread for the individual compositions. Opening number Lords of Hate is a good example of the band at their most experimental, opening with an ominous, brooding distorted vocals and droning synth passage reeking of sulphur and venom. This evil-sounding motif then transforms into a theme rather close to Tangerine Dream in general expression, briefly, prior to setting off into a complicated, challenging and intricate musical landscape. Hard funky bass guitar is something of a constant feature, underscoring heavy funk-based parts, grinding, heavy riff barrages and lighter, whimsical sequences where the guitar distortion is switched off completely. Mellotron-sounding textures applied to movement of a more laid-back nature have their place in this piece too, and all of it is explored in just over 8 minutes. Other efforts are easier definable: Don't Mind with its laid back guitar riffs with similarities to Soundgarden in expression, female lead vocals and a droning, eastern-inspired synth texture hidden in the back of the mix, this following an initial opening movement featuring droning, dark synths and folk-inspired percussion. One might say that these two tracks form the outer limits for this album as a whole as far as the experimental nature of it goes, with most tracks closer to the former than the latter in that particular respect, but incorporating an even wider scope of stylistic details. The only letdown as such is final effort and title track Sum, where the band plays around in the studio, creating a track consisting of material either played at half, double or triple speed, the latter of which is most prominent and also most annoying as far as I'm concerned. Unless you have a thing for listening to Peyo's Smurfs taking on the experimental metal realm, that is.
Conclusion. If you like metal, you enjoy a band with an overall experimental approach and have a soft spot for compositions generally regarded as highly challenging, Outopsya and their effort "Sum" should be well within your field of interest – a fine creation for anyone with a taste for the philosophy of the unexpected in an experimental metal setting in other words. Not always successful or brilliant, but well worth exploring for the times when all the pieces eventually fall down in the right place.
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