I guess with the band being named after a Kafka story and an album title like that, it was a fair signpost that there would be introspection and an urge to go the progressive route by these Ukrainian musicians. Would I want to follow? Hmm. Well the sound is kind of the Katatonia template with a smidgen of The 3rd & The Mortal and a tweak of funeral doom and doom/death laid about with a post-rock feel. Honestly, though, I can’t help but wonder if, for all the harsh vocals here, it’s the latter that tugs most at their musical hearts.
They introduce themselves via a quirky little bit of xylophone and deliberately obviously sampled applause. The slow doom/death rises up around a jangling guitar and odd harsh vocals which sound half obstructed. It is an odd, uneven sound that only pulls itself into shape when that death metal riffing falls away and we find ourselves in a post rock slanted Katatonia sound. Thus is the Theatre Of Forms. The follow up, Infloresence Of Silence is more in the melancholy but travels in no particular direction despite a nice enough guitar sound, and A Painting (Digging Into The Canvas With Oil) is a strange but more or less successful amalgamation of the feel of some depressive black metal with the sound The 3rd & The Mortal used on their Painting On Glass album all those years ago. Occasional discordance, brief sojourns into a heavier style with melancholic hooks, shifting patterns, spoken vocals. If I line those ingredients up not only should it work but I should fall into this. And yet it’s only those gentle, quiet moments that take me. The flow is too often interrupted and the engagement falters.
This is a long and perplexing album for me. The stylistic changes between the soft melancholy and the harsh metal seem like slabs forced together at times. There is a lot here that I remember from the more experimental sides of the early 90s; The 3rd & The Mortal, early Therion around Theli, Elend, Katatonia, heck, even Sigur Ros. All stuff I like and in some cases adore. But the marriage here, and an inability to find a flow to songs that should wrap around me and carry me out to sea, is maddeningly frustrating. It’s the kind of frustration where you turn inwards and look for the fault in yourself. But that can’t be the whole answer. In the end the songs interrupt themselves at every turn, the two sides off the band clashing when they could work together. Some passages I really like but they always seem to be snatched away from me.
Unengaged. In the end that’s where I am. When they move in to ponderous death metal it feels lumpy, uneven somehow. When they wrap themselves in the post-rock, drenched in melancholy and keyboards they sound so much more at home to me. Even then though they often feel like an echo of something else; distant and as undirect as a slowly drifting spectral boat constantly turning to mist as I approach.
For me though: It is a debut, a mark in the sand so to speak, and I am sure that Odradek Room will move on to better things as there is undeniable talent in here. It will be without me alas. I just couldn’t find that room inside.