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September 19, 2011

Review: The Universe Divide – Dust Settles On The Odontophobes

Tr00 Metal Life

Dust Settles On The Odontophobes, the debut EP from US instrumental outfit The Universe Divide, has been gaining a lot of positive attention in the ole’ metal blogging circuit lately. I am about to add to that positive press.

The Universe Divide Dust Settles On The Odontophobes

Instrumental albums are a real risk, even in the progressive metal genre. For many fans, Sure, on many albums the token instrumental is actually the best track, but for many listeners the vocals are what bring all the different elements of a song together – the vocal melody – and the lyrics – stick in your head. It’s the lyrics you belt out at the top of your lungs when you’re braving the circle pit, it’s the lyrics you sing off key in the shower while you’re getting your soapy groove on … (or is that just me? Ahem.) So a fully instrumental band is a brave endeavour – it strips back and redefines the essence of a metal song, and I dig that.

I also really dig Dust Settles On The Odontophobes.

When I hear “instrumental”, I immediately expect an onslaught of endless guitar noodling and overextended, drawn out song-structures. But what The Universe Divide have done is taken an ordinary progressive metal song, taken out all the bits where the instruments take second-place to the vocals, removed them, and stitched everything back together with some intricate, interesting riffs. Of course they are amazing musicians – you couldn’t pull this off without a high level of skill – but their true talent lies in their ability to create a dense, multi-layered sound. These are songs you enjoy listening to again and again, because every time a different melody, riff or fill jumps out at you. Listening to this album it’s hard to believe The Universe Divide is only a trio.

Both Chris Rushing (guitars) and Gaël Pirlot (bass) were members of the now disbanded Canvas Solaris, and fans of that band will not be disappointed. In fact, fans of bands like Cynic, Opeth and the harder, heavier progressive metal are going to be fucking stoked.

My favourite track is “Of Optimisn – the Glass Vein”, and I’m also a huge fan of “Of Realism: The Lead Artery”. But really, it’s all good.

If I can make a complaint, it’s that all the song-titles sound like Robert Frost poems – it’s quite hard to remember them. Do you remember that song I told you about in the paragraph above? The one that’s my favorite? Yeah, I’ve forgotten what it’s called. I distinctly remember it being track 3, so if you’re reading this – track 3 is a winner.

The band have just released three remixed versions of songs from “Dust Settles on the Odontophobes” – created by Nathan Sapp (another old Canvas Solaris member). Remixing is an interesting concept – one that usually interests the band members themselves more than their fans, but Cynic have proven it can be done well, so we shall see. The remixes, titled “Sapp Settles on the Odontophobes” are available on the band’s website.

Read more about the band on The Universe Divide website, and check out their Facebook page and Youtube channel. You can grab Dust Settles On The Odontophobes from Laser’s Edge / Sensory Records, or from the website.