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Beyond The Aeons

todayJuly 4, 2024 2

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01. The Dawns In Nothingness02. Coast Of The Drowned Sailors03. Human Amoral04. Shattered Wings05. Beyond The Aeons06. The Hallowed Flame07. Concealed Serenity08. A Dusk Of Vex No one could accuse Olli-Pekka Laine of rushing into a solo career. Bassist with Finnish legends AMORPHIS for the bulk of their 34-year career, he has already secured his place in the modern metal pantheon, but OCTOPLOID illuminates the Finn’s creative big picture like never before. Ostensibly a band, rather than a one-man side-project, everything about this is so well-conceived and thoughtfully executed that the logical response is to ask why it took him so long. “Beyond The Aeons” is a magnificent opening statement: a progressive and psychedelic metal adventure, infused with the rich, kaleidoscopic atmosphere of ’70s prog rock, but rooted in the windswept euphoria of Finnish melo-death. The stunning, cosmic freakout of its gorgeous artwork is mere icing on a cake that almost certainly has something mind-altering in it.Clearly a smart man, Olli-Pekka Laine seems content to keep OCTOPLOID as a fairly fluid affair, with vocals provided by several Scandinavian notables, including SWALLOW THE SUN’s Mikko Kotamäki and, not surprisingly, AMORPHIS frontman Tomi Joutsen. Impressively, “Beyond The Aeons” never feels sidetracked by the novelty of multiple singers. Instead, these eight songs hang together with great cohesion, in the grand tradition of flowing, conceptual progressive rock albums. On a more fundamental level, OCTOPLOID have pulled off a laudable act of cross-pollination here. Fans of the early works of AMORPHIS, OPETH and maybe even EDGE OF SANITY will be drawn in by these songs’ obvious spiritual kinship with that era. But those bands never embraced the swampy, oscillating charms of the Hammond organ or the sky-piercing oddness of a Moog modular synth with quite the passion that Olli-Pekka Laine has brought to bear on a frequently revelatory debut.A powerful way to open this show, “The Dawns In Nothingness” begins at a pace and with a mood not too far removed from the AMORPHIS mothership, but as sonic details start to emerge, it becomes abundantly clear that OCTOPLOID has its own eccentric, internal logic. Mid-song, a triumphant blizzard of scabrous metal snaps seamlessly into luminescent, space-bound prog, before snapping back again with seamless grace. Next, monastic vocals float across a drumless impasse, before the roar of metal commences anew, and guitarist Peter Salonen lets fly with a stunning solo. Sung by Kotamäki, “The Dawns In Nothingness” is a dazzling entry point, and bright, musical colors continue to erupt throughout everything that follows. “Coast Of The Drowned Failures” (featuring AMORPHIS guitarist Tomi Koivusaari and XYSMA’s Janitor Muurinen on vocals) takes a more purposeful stride into folk-influenced prog metal territory, but with infernally catchy guitar hooks and a gleefully imaginative arrangement that introduces the crystalline whoosh of space rock into OCTOPLOID’s already abundant world. On “Human Amoral”, the classic prog references are flying out at all angles, as Tomi Joutsen delivers his usual elemental might, amid an uplifting splurge of folk melodies and trippy detours. On the nimble-footed “Shattered Wings”, OCTOPLOID wade deeper into ’70s prog waters, with only the barbarous vocals of FEASTEM’s Petri Eskelinen maintaining a link to the extreme metal underground. More synth solos. More fuzzed-out guitar breaks. More Hammond. “Beyond The Aeons” knows what it wants and nails it.After the mellifluous, acid reverie of the instrumental title track, there are two more songs with Mikko Kotamäki on vocals, in keeping with his nominal role as OCTOPLOID’s live vocalist. Both are magnificent. The first, “Hallowed Flame”, pitches the SWALLOW THE SUN singer into the heart of a stately but turbulent storm, his sonorous baritone bobbing around amidst acoustic strumming, before he opens his throat and greets the oncoming wall of guitars like a true berserker. “Concealed Serenity” is darker, doomier and sodden with icy melancholy, faint glimmers of hope coming though in waves of Mellotron and Kotamäki’s proud roar. Finally, “Dusk Of Vex” marries Olli-Pekka Laine’s refined but time-defying songwriting with the extraordinary voice(s) of HAMFERD’s Jón Aldará, who sends the whole thing soaring into the stratosphere, as keyboards ripple and soothe, and predatory death metal riffs appear from nowhere; each unexpected sidestep adding to the glorious, maximalist thrill of it all.In less capable hands, the feats of musical indulgence performed on “Beyond The Aeons” could easily have strayed into pastiche. A testament to their leader’s clarity and vision, OCTOPLOID’s opening statement is fascinating, authentic and convincing from beginning to end. A psychedelic prog metal party to savor, this is proof that biding one’s time can reap magical rewards.[embedded content]

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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