#FOR FANS OF: Heavy/Speed Metal, Judas Priest, The Sword
Formed in 2009, Massachusetts metallers Olÿphant were originally conceived as a classic metal cover band before quickly moving on to writing original music that brings a classic metal with doom and stoner influences to prog and thrash elements alongside. Basically dripping with sprawling, mid-tempo dirges, the album’s main focus becomes quite clear early on with the ability to effortlessly shift from these wide-ranging elements as there’s a strong showing of spindly, galloping heavy metal, swirling stoner riff-work and plodding, oppressive doom rhythms that all come together here. This wide-ranging set of influences creates a wide-ranging sense of free-flowing and unpredictable work, never really journeying through the expected realms of the genres in order to continually warp themselves into a finely-tuned effort that’s quite enjoyable when it drops these vastly-varying elements into the journey without warning. At times, though, that does the album a slight disservice as this rarely manages to feel like it shifts all that cohesively, being essentially a wide-ranging hodgepodge of influential elements coming together to create a seemingly jarring and discordant array of tracks without a singular connecting vibe between any of it, and is an issue to contend with as the band carries on. Efforts like ‘Brown Jenkin,’ ‘Incidents in the Butterfly Garden’ and ‘The Expedition’ offer up the most nominal and enjoyable variations of the style, featuring these elements coming together into a stylistic whole to be the highlight tracks on the album. The multi-faceted ‘The Grey Havens (To the Sea)’ offers a fine look at these elements shifting continuously throughout it’s epic passages that makes for quite a winding journey, while ‘Before the Fall’ abandons the vast majority of what came before in order to turn into a raging speed-metal mosher. Still, this isn’t that problematic of an effort and still has a lot to like.