ALBUM REVIEW: Odysseus Reborn – ‘Xenopharmacopia’

Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer 

So. This band I adore, Odysseus Reborn have recently released their new album, ‘Xenopharmacopia’. The title is quite a mouthful and so is the album; like a full bulging mouthful that’s dribbling down your chin, barely containable and full of ALL the flavours. Ten huge tracks, each one a full journey or almost like a full album in itself. 

I first discovered Odysseus Reborn at a Metal United World Wide gig in Hervey Bay. They were by far the stand out band of the night. I stood, somewhat mesmerized by their performance and sound. They seemed to somehow encapsulate Alt Rock, Metal, Stoner Rock, Sludge, Doom, Prog and Heavy Rock and roll it all into one big ball of sound and performance that was like nothing else. Anyone who knows me, knows I am (or was, ugh, COVID-19 and the subsequent live music restrictions are the literal worst thing!) always out seeing as much live music as possible, discovering as many bands as possible, always seeking and looking for something new and something that really impresses me; something with that WOW factor. The night I found Odysseus Reborn was one of those WOW moments. I have since followed them eagerly and have even booked them on one of my shows (I am also a promoter). 

Odysseus Reborn deliver a stellar live show, every, single time. But does that relay into their recorded music? With their new release, the answer is YES, 100% yes. It’s the kind of album, I think, that is best received by putting on headphones, laying in a giant bean bag or hammock or on the most comfortable couch or bed you can find, tuning out entirely to everything else and just tuning into the album, song by song, completely immersing yourself in the journey. Almost going into a meditative state; into another realm. 

The album begins with Point Insertion. And from the get go, there it is; that heavy, sludgy, doomy, dark, imaginative, otherworldly sound that sets the whole vibe, sets the feelings, all the feelings… The journey commences. With almost a Middle Eastern sound layering in as the vocals join in with the cacophony of sounds from the bands respective instruments. I am reminded instantly of what drew me to this band. That WOW moment is here again. 

Planetsmoker is next. I love that almost all of Odysseus Reborn’s songs seem to begin slowly. There is always a moment of me holding my breath, waiting for the song to begin in its entirety. The slow build of each track has my heart leaping further and further into my love for it. Like a natural progression of appreciation for each and every moment of the song, of the album. The echoing guitars, deep, vibrating bassline, consistent beating drums, the soaring vocals that faultlessly swing from clean to slightly more grunty and gravelly are delivered like a slow release of endorphins. Fornication Migration commences with keys played so eloquently. And vocals layered beautifully, the keys slowly build and I feel a growing intensity as the drama builds, the keys are played faster and more aggressively, then more delicately again. Drummer and keys player, Alex constantly impresses me with his musicianship. I recall chatting to him at the bar that first night I saw the band live and I knew from that moment he was a creative soul I was happy to have met. I feel that way about the entire band. Every member has that creative soul and free spirit that I appreciate and relate to oh so much. And that is reflected entirely in their music. 

Narrowing Halls kicks off with what almost sounds like someone running, at an ever increasing speed. Running away? running towards something? of that I am unsure. But I feel a desperation in this track. As the track builds, that desperation is still felt. As the song ‘narrows in’ upon the listener. Astrosapians begins with an echoing, haunting sound. There is a peacefulness here. That meditative state I mentioned earlier; it’s here again. I feel quite emotional listening to this track. It builds into a space-like trip, around the world and out into space. Other-worldly. With effects and sounds coming from the bands instruments that sound like spaceships and extra terrestrial communications. I wonder if the guys left earth to write this one? 

Thermite gives another element of Odysseus Reborn’s sound. The guitars and intensity of this track almost lend themselves to some serious Thrash Metal. There is an anger in this track, like a built up series of frustrations unleashed into a song. But then, somewhere in the middle, it breaks. And there is almost a jazzy/bluesy sound in the guitars and vocals. Amazing delivery of so many elements of the bands influences and appreciation of different genres of music. I am actually a little bewildered as to how they make it work. But, they do. They really, really do. This track being the second longest song on the album, at 8 minutes 48, it’s certainly got room for those different elements. I hear a Jimi Hendrix influence towards the end here too. The layers here are intense. Like one of those homemade layered dips that just keeps on giving and surprising you with a new flavour the deeper you dig. Flowing, without a single breath or hesitation, into Predictions. This song is like something from a mythical, fantasy movie, it’s almost  like a moment of enlightenment. I am not sure why I suddenly feel like I am riding a unicorn into rainbow clouds, but here I am. Did I mention this album is like a journey? The lead guitar in this track is highlighted and the eerie delivery of the same notes played on the keys as they fade out and into the next track, Approaching Intergalactic Nomadic Superintelligence is done brilliantly. The tracks flow so well here. At 2:59, this is the shortest ‘track’ on the album, it’s almost like a short interval; that breath that wasn’t taken earlier. 

Vex is up next with aggressive vocals bringing back the intensity of earlier tracks. This track screams confusion to me. The instruments sound messy, but intentionally so. Huge lead guitar solos and a steady flow of sounds behind them. You can feel the journey of ‘Xenopharmacopia’ coming to an end soon. And end soon it does, as the last track, Dead Star commences. The longest track on the album, ending with a lengthy bang of sorts. And I mean, in all honesty, who doesn’t like a lengthy bang? 

This album is, simply put, huge. Huge in sound, emotions, length and depth. It has it all. Just like the band themselves. I am quite honestly bewildered as to how this band has not exploded into bigger things. They deliver a unique and talented expression of sounds through their music and live shows that is deserving of bigger audiences than what they already have. I look forward to the day I see them being appreciated on a bigger scale and I will sit and smile and think to myself ‘I knew’. 

The guys had an incredible, well planned tour booked in around the album’s release that sadly had to be canned due to live music restrictions but I know they plan to reschedule it all again just as soon as the time is right to do so. The ‘Smoking The Universe Tour’ will be one you do not want to miss, so stay tuned to their socials for updated tour info. 

To end my review I give you a quote from Alex (drums, keys + backing vox): “Copious amounts of alien space drugs, investigated by an unknown group of beings, with findings varying from clear to cloudy. A recovered black-box; it’s a multi-genre astro experience which takes you across the unknown universe.” 

‘Xenopharmacopia’ is the band’s fifth release after their EP ‘The Journey Begins’ (2015), albums, ‘Feed The Machine’ (2016), ‘Divine Inclination’ (2017) and EP ‘TimeCrier’ (2018).

‘Xenopharmacopia’ was officially released on March 22, 2020. You can tune into this magical journey of an album HERE. 

Photo By Luke Sangiorgio for Good Call LiveWoolly Mammoth Mane Stage – Brisbane 11/10/2019

Odysseus Reborn are a four piece Alternative/Progressive/Cinematic Hard Rock band from Bundaberg, QLD.

Robert (Rob) Elkin – Lead Guitar/Vocals
Seth (Beansie) Civic – Rhythm Guitar/Vocals
Matthew (Fish) Fisher – Bass Guitar/Vocals
Alexander (Alex) Gasparich – Drums/Vocals/Keyboard 

Follow Odysseus Reborn:

Facebook // Instagram // Twitter //  YouTube // Spotify // SoundCloud // Bandcamp 

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