01 April 2016

Review: Oktopus – Worlds Apart (The Progmeister)

Oktopus – Worlds Apart

Released: April 1st 2016

The Progmeister (on behalf of Midlands Metalheads Radio)

The debut album (there is an EP previously available featuring Jane Gillard, the original vocalist) is now on sale. I was fortunate enough to get a pre-release Press copy and have been playing the shit out of it for the past week, so what can you expect ??

Let me start be saying, although there are 8 tracks on the disc, the total running time is approx 35 minutes as three are experiments in ambient sound and last around 60 seconds each, interesting, but somehow out of context with the other five tracks. So, what of the remaining five tracks, is the total package worthy of your hard-earned ? £5 for the digital version and £7.50 for a CD, so it’s not gonna break the bank guys….

oktopus-web-size-19-150x150One thing we discussed during our interview (listen into The Lost Art on 10th Aug) was how we all like to label and pigeon-hole bands, films, music etc and if you opt to adopt that approach with Oktopus, be prepared to be challenged !! The more time goes by, the harder it is to be original as so much has gone before that unless you’re out and out fucking eccentric and prepared to stick your head above the crowd, it is inevitable that comparisons are made. Take a hint of Rush, a whiff of Allan Holdsworth and a sprinkling of Haken and you’re in the right ball-park !!

Alistair Bell (Guitar and lead vocals, except Track 6 – The Hand On Your Shoulder) has taken over on lead vocals after the departure of Jane Gillard and as his vocal range is in the upper register (not quite Geddy Lee !!) the transition was effortless. His guitar skills are beyond any doubt worthy of a seasoned guitarist twice his age with a fluidity of expression that, at times, beggars belief… It is clear that man and machine are in sync.

Samuel C. Roberts and Tim Wilson on Bass and Drums respectively provide a solid rhythm and the overall sound is one of a well honed unit, these boys now how to play and with a variety and wealth of influences and background to their name, have created an end product that is far greater than the constituent parts. There’s the odd moment when a keyboard would have filled out the sound a little, but I’m just being picky coz I like keyboards !!

oktopus-web-size-23-150x150During a song, there are riffs and themes changing more often than Madonna’s hair-style that you never really know where the track’s going. Just when you think you have it sussed, the band changes direction and totally goes off on a different tangent, which keeps it fresh and interesting They may have dropped the “Prog” moniker through fear of being labelled, but this very much falls under the Prog banner, so maybe Oktopus is a good name for this band as it has multiple limbs to explore any musical path the band decide to take and embrace their very obvious Prog leanings.

Pulling on Jazz, Rock, Metal and Classical influences, the stand out tracks are “Minotaur” (the album’s longest track at 10’37 – a veritable epic by Oktopus standards !!) and the title track. It may not be the longest album in the World, but what’s on offer is well worth checking out, jump on board folks and join the ride, these guys are going places, enjoy the journey.

Available now from the band’s website: https://oktopusuk.bandcamp.com/releases

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