Simon Ohlsson – Guitar, vocals
Jonte Johansson – Bass, vocals
Peter Ottosson – Percussion, drums
3.) Blackened Wings
5.) Hollow Waters
6.) Through the Depths
Following on from 2019’s Grasping Time, Vokonis’ fourth full-length, Odyssey, is right around the corner. The chance to hear the band dive in and fully embrace their proggy side isn’t to be missed, and it’s every bit as glorious as the album art suggests.
Grasping Time was a decent offering, but felt like it was lacking a certain something. It was a bit of a prog/stoner mix, and both sides were good, but maybe didn’t quite mesh as well as they might have. The 2 years in between have served Vokonis well, as there is no such issue this time around. Odyssey is a consistently captivating piece that trims any and every element of fat and leaves behind nothing but choice cuts from start to finish. It adds in extra doses of aggression where they serve the overall sound, without losing any of the melodic power that is such a driving force here. In short, Vokonis feel like they’re really coming into their own identity this time around.
That identity is one rooted in both progressive and heavier, more doom-oriented branches of the heavy metal tree. The shorter numbers like “Azure” and “Blackened Wings” focus on that heavier groove, though even then melody is never truly forsaken, and “Rebellion” immediately calls to mind the likes of Mastodon’s “Blood & Thunder” or The Sword’s “The Black River”. Elsewhere, the album evokes rolling fields and landscapes. The vibrant lead work conjures images of a bright, shining sun, and the relentless drum beats give the feeling of an ominous, swirling thunderstorm on the horizon. That sensation of nature all around is potent here. There are also passages where the band shift comfortably into an ethereal, fantastical kind of aural scene-setting that would do Magnum proud.
Yet these never feel like clashing, combating styles, there’s always a wonderful feeling of consistency. The tonal shifts aren’t pure contrast, just a changing of gears, different passages of one grand, mind-bending journey. This steady steering of their sounds allows Vokonis to earn every moment of the epic album closer “Through the Depths”, I could happily listen to that theatrical swelling and swooping for hours.
The sense of variety married to consistency is rewarding on a level comparable to Metallica’s 80’s classics, even if done in a differing genre style, and Odyssey is the sound of a band confidently, gracefully and magnificently taking off and soaring as they were always meant to, in enthralling style.