OU II: Frailty Review

Chinese Prog Metal Band Making Waves; Collaborates with Devin Townsend for New Album...

Released by: Inside Out Music

Release Date: Aprl 26th, 2024

Genre: Progressive Metal

Links: https://www.outheband.com/

 

Line Up:

Lynn Wu – Vocals
Anthony Vanacore – Drums
Jing Zhang – Guitars
Chris Cui – Bass

 

Tracklist:

1. ?? Frailty
2. ?? Purge
3. ? Ocean
4. ?? Redemption
5. ?? Capture and Elongate (Serenity)
6. ?? Spirit Broken
7. ???? yyds
8. ?? Reborn
9. ? Recall

 

 

This Chinese progressive metal band will definitely go places. If they don’t make an impact on the scene, I’d be surprised.

Additionally, the fact that it was co-produced and mixed by Devin Townsend is evident in the effect Townsend has on this album. It’s unmistakable, and it really brings the talent to the forefront. From rock that pushes the boundaries to softer songs mixed with hints of electro-dance synth sounds, this album covers a vast array for any listener of rock, prog, and metal.

I don’t understand the Chinese language at all, so I was grateful to get a copy of the translated lyrics into English. I can see and hear how the words really complement the songs all around. Singer Lynn Wu has a Carina Round way of using her voice as a textural palette from lows to highs and everything in between. She can transition from breathy to hard-edged in a moment. The lyrics are also very insightful, and after reading them, I can feel the depth of the music more than I did when I first listened through.

Noting the musicians to start off with because I think it’s valuable in this case, singer Lynn Wu’s vocal range and atmospheric presence on this album are undeniably beautiful and attention-grabbing. On guitars, Jing Zhang meticulously riffs heavy and soft, leaving no question that he plays with tact and skill, which helps define this album. The same goes for Chris Cui on bass; he gives great definition where one might expect it – it’s more than just strictly bass; it’s a textural instrument allowing the guitar to explore. Anthony Vanacore on drums has a way of filling every space, and it really works. It’s not always what you expect, and I like that.

From the first song hitting heavy to the last song, which is a loop of vocals and synth sounds, ironically making the listener want to look back and restart the album, at least it did for me.

“Frailty” smacks you in the face; the varying degrees of sounds are quite impressive. It keeps your attention for all 5:09 of the song. This is metal prog at its finest. I don’t even know what to say other than this is a GREAT way to start an album.

“Purge” brings Devin Townsend in to help with the vocals, and there’s honestly no denying this song really has a Townsend edge to it. With swirling synth sounds leading up to the 52-second mark when the riffage hits. What I like about this one is the song feels like it should be pretty straightforward until some point in the middle when the riff is like a factory press hitting over and over, but in a good way when you’re standing there and the machines may all be going at different times, but there’s a time signature you can find. I like the song a lot.

“Ocean” starts with a swell that makes what’s coming next feel perfect; it’s like jazz metal more than anything. I like the layering in this track; the interplay of the music leaves the listener able to find and focus on multiple things while always able to find center. This song, to me, has a Haken feel. The vocal melody is quite proggy too. About halfway into the song, it begins to change a little bit, and the vocal line really goes up a level; in fact, everything goes up a level. And then at 3:15 or so, it changes totally but retains the heavy aspect just with a more simple beat structure. It completely feels like a new song, but they bring it back and all feels well. However, the listener may give this mid-song switch a side-eye the first time before they fall in love with it.

By the time we hit “Redemption,” the listener has been inundated with sounds and changes and textures that make this song at first feel “simple,” but when you really dig into it, it’s far from simple. It’s softer, not simple. And that softer feel is a nice touch. The whole song builds you up and then lets you float on down just as softly as it started.

“Capture and Elongate” honestly has an almost Wii menu music feel, mixed with something Muse might do. I struggled with this song at first. I couldn’t find the hook or connection between things. But when you look at the lyrics, it makes the song more digestible. The song does get heavy for a few moments at the 1:45 area, but then goes right back to the Wii menu music. However, when it finally does pick up for the last time around 3:08, it doesn’t let go. It was at this point I began to understand the song a little more, and I found myself going back to the beginning and enjoying it more. I love how this song ends. They did this one good.

“Spirit Broken” brings you back to the metal and rock and leaves nothing hanging. I really appreciate the tone of Wu’s vocals in this one. She has a heavy tone where it matters. Zhang’s guitar work and use of effects in this song really shine as the song goes on, given where it starts. One might think it’ll just stay at the rock song it is, but before you know it, they do it again and change on you, and you didn’t even realize it. As we enter the true middle of the song, things really change, and it feels like you’re crawling through the weeds and grass to try and stay hidden. The lyrics in this song are really good and fit the overall texture you find in the song.

“Yyds” is an instrumental track on par with everything this album already offers. I like it. It’s chunky, spacey, light, and heavy all in one.

“Reborn” offers a rare glimpse of Wu’s naked voice, and you can hear the control she has in singing. This song certainly has one of the lightest feels of the album; everything is very airy and open. There is room to explore and become one as the reverb becomes your friend. The lack of drums in this song gives the other instruments a chance to shine in ways they have not yet on this album.

“Recall” is a looping track with synth and vocals. The layers really give the song a life that it wouldn’t have otherwise. The only lyrics in the song are “greed, anger, obtuse, pride, fear”. I think it’s a great way to end the album, although it does get a little long for my liking. Even with the vocal texture added in the middle. It’s a buildup, fly and come down song just in time to restart the album.

There is something for everyone on this album. As I let it sit and noodle around in my head throughout a few days, I began to like it more and more. I found myself going back to it when I finally found the right hooks and mental state. This is a listening album, a concept album that requires the utmost attention; you can feel that in the music.

 

Written by: Chris Rugowski

Ratings: 9/10

 

 

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