OTARION: Prayer from the Deep (2020)
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
“How to survive to an album such as Extensive? In copying to soul of it and build strong E-Rock anthems”
1 Son of Amittai 9:05
2 The Order 7:01
3 The Refusal 7:30
4 Towards Jafo 8:22
5 The Flight to Tarsis 5:16
6 The Residence of Nimrod 6:52
7 The Sleeping Prophet 8:14
8 The Fall 6:28
9 Prayer from the Deep 7:57
10 Salvation from the Lord 4:01
(CD-R/DDL 70:53) (V.F.)
(Heavy progressive & symphonic E-rock)
It's never easy to explain Otarion's music. Especially since the German musician undertook a surprising turn towards symphonic and electronic hard rock with his album Decide in 2017. His music remains dark and theatrical with a progression in each story that brings us to a huge crescendo of emotions. Following the eagerness of Extensive, PRAYER FROM THE DEEP tells the story of the prophet Jonah who resisted to God's orders. The story of the album is set from his disobedience which leads him to his shipwreck and his journey in the whale up until the ejection of his organic vessel three weeks later! A sequel, No time was lost, is in its design stage and would be Otarion's next album. We expect to hear emotional rock, but what surprises in this last album is this violence reproduced by curt and nervous riffs which are filled with emotion by a guitar of The Edge style, as well as the heavy riffs of Jerome Froese's Guitartronica. A guitar also whose essences are reminiscent of Thorsten Quaeschning's and his breathtaking performance in Bernd Kistenmacher's album Utopia. And much like in his previous albums, each track is conceived in crescendo mode and reaches a level of emotional violence to give chills. But too much is like not enough!
Like in Son of Amittai! Coming from afar, this first track is a buzz that rages in a rural district where the clapping of hooves on a brick floor is music. The hum becomes a sound wave which undulates gently in a tonal decoration filled with scarlet streaks which will become riffs and piercing harmonies à la U2. The rhythm is dictated by a Larry Mullen Junior's drums. The music and the ambiences develop in a crescendo which reaches its boiling point around the 6th minute. Intense, Son of Amittai becomes a rock anthem where U2 and Coldplay merge their most poignant guitar textures in the last third of a track that stunned me from the first listen. We unroll the 9 other titles of PRAYER FROM THE DEEP to find out the same motus operandi for at least 6 other titles, including The Order which grows with a kind of mooing. The rhythm which develops is a good up-tempo which pours towards big rock dominated by the drums and the guitar. It's a good electronic rock which at the beginning is imposed by the synth and its harmonies before the last quavering breath turns into a big symphonic heavy rock where The Edge seems to have invested the studios of Rainer Klein. It's violent, like an anger, and it ends with almost 3 minutes of spiritual reflection. Slower, in the slow rub-belly genre, The Refusal follows what Jonas must have thought with a slow crescendo towards anger of the cursed after the 6 minutes mark. Each title is developed more or less in the same context, that is to say with openings carried by ambient elements, soft rhythms which are almost magnetizing and melodies which often do not have time to germinate completely. These first moments belong to the synths, keyboard and sequencer. A gradation takes place until the electronics give up its hold, allowing the guitar and percussions, which often have already started to impose themselves, to take control. Usually, the music ends in a pact with electronic heavy metal. Titles like Towards Jafo and Salvation from the Lord are escaping this rule by remaining comfortably in a ballad or ambient panorama.
The Flight to Tarsis offers a reverie sculpted in the differences between scintillating arpeggios and others darker, like melodious sequences. The harmonies are in the form of guitar riffs and infiltrate the ambiences at the same time where manual percussions are drumming an absent rhythm. The guitar riffs try to impose themselves in the form of solos, but they are more screaming effects, like Thorsten Quaeschning in the black harmonies of Picture Palace Music. And there is intensity per square inch in this title! The percussions tumble rather quickly in the landscape of The Residence of Nimrod's meditative ambiences. Almost 90 seconds later and bang! From ambient, the music becomes a solid catchy rock. It overheats and explodes before joining the ranks of a chthonian gothic rock. A great track in PRAYER FROM THE DEEP! It's with a set of Tibetan bells, and their resonances, that The Sleeping Prophet opens. Soon a shadow permeates the decor, bringing a veil of tension in an ambience where synth chords have already replaced the ringing of bells. A menacing pulsation puts all its weight into an ethereal ambience that is adorned with a series of tiny bells of which the riffs ends up creating a ticking sound. Want it or not, our senses are in mode rock and await this sudden explosion that is frankly desired. An explosion that will not come, letting a form of crescendo of tension drinking this gradation towards a short rock period which ends The Sleeping Prophet. The vibes of The Fall suit it perfectly. One can easily imagine a fall caught in a whirlwind where the spheroidal rhythm meets a meditative phase before regaining its heaviness and rage leaded by the riffs of an electric six-string. A beautiful melody roams in this title which knows a violence equal to the series of the first 3 titles of PRAYER FROM THE DEEP.
The task of succeeding an album as imposing as Extensive was almost impossible to overcome. So why not do as in this excellent Otarion album? And that explains PRAYER FROM THE DEEP! As I wrote at the opening, the difference is these moments of crescendo built on the rage of guitar riffs. At this level, there are some great moments in this album built around 10 tracks that are a little too similar. But it's still an imposing album with this flaw of too much is like not enough…
Sylvain Lupari (November 24th, 2020) *****
Available at MellowJet Records