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Osukaru - 2017 The Labyrinth
» Posted by Avatar

gdazegod
on March 28 2017, In 2017 Articles , 1 Comment , 389 Reads , Print



ARTIST: Osukaru
ALBUM: The Labyrinth
LABEL: City Of Lights Records
SERIAL: COL17
YEAR: 2017

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Oz Osukaru - guitar, keyboards * Fredrik Werner - vocals, guitar * Lisa Eugenia - keyboards, vocals * Olof Gadd - bass * Vidar Martensson - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Maze Of Mind * 02 The Stories We Tell * 03 Voices In The Dark * 04 Edge Of Night * 05 It's Only Forever * 06 Voodoo (Who Do) * 07 Poisonous * 08 Undying Rose * 09 The Offering * 10 Moonlight Silhouette

RATING:

WEBLINKS: Osukaru FB Page


Background
Osukaru have certainly withstood the flames of the fire as generated by this website. But I can safely say this lot are now one of my favourite Swedish bands, and their output is testament to that. I have been looking forward to 'The Labyrinth' for several months now, and with its arrival comes another review. Firstly, the theme of the album is all about the David Bowie/Jennifer Connelly movie 'Labyrinth', which gets a fair dose of love from Oz and the team, given the album title. It's an unusual concept to say the least, where the navigation of the album follows the circumstances in the movie, apparently, though I can't confirm it without watching the movie again. Now that is devotion taken to a new level. Does that mean we will get a power metal concept album based on the Game Of Thrones series in years to come? Let's hope so.


The Songs
There's an abundance of strong guitar work, supported by intricate keyboard leads and layers. I think at some point in the past I used fellow Swedes Alyson Avenue as a comparison, and it applies here again, obviously the female lead vocals come into play, though I have to say that Lisa Eugenia's voice is very good but hovers in the mid-range rather than the higher realms. There are numerous highlights for me. 'The Stories That We Tell' provides a solid platform for Osukaru to launch, the guitar parts reminiscent of today's style of melodic rock. 'Voices In The Dark' features Lisa Eugenia's vocal work, which certainly is a point of difference. She sounds great on 'It's Only Forever'. As on the previous albums, the two lead singers (male and female) combine on duets. I'll admit I'm still not a big fan of Fredrik Werner's voice, I think he oversings his parts and tends to dominate when combined with Lisa Eugenia. 'Undying Rose' is a good example of this. However I will say this, Fredrik excels when Osukaru really kick into high gear, especially on songs like 'Voodoo (Who Do)' and 'The Offering'. The male vocal and the heavier guitars obviously work well in tandem. The melodic rock tracks tend to work better when Lisa Eugenia is singing, so there in lies the answer.


In Summary
Oz advises that 'The Labyrinth' has an overload of keyboards not heard since 2012's 'Salvation', and that the guitars might be touch heavier than heard previously. I wouldn't disagree with that observation either, as I'm hearing pretty much the same thing. 'The Labyrinth' is a tale of two parts, when their songs are sung by either of their singers. For me, I recognize the band's strengths and prefer to focus on those. Mostly though, the songs are generally appealing, and this continues an upward trend for Oz and his band of merry musicians.


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#1 | george_the_jack on April 01 2017 10:42:18
I saw these guys live without knowing anything about them and liked them very much. So I know where you're coming from, George, when you say you like their melodic rock. They certainly know how to write good songs, not a given accomplishment even for well-established bands nowadays.

I have since dived into all their releases and I have to say that the first thing that comes to my mind is inconsistency. It is not just the constant personnel changes that make the life of every band difficult but Oz and his co. also decided to release way too many albums and EPs in a small time-frame of just a few years. They should have rather stayed with 2 full-length releases, restricting their output to the best songs available at any given time. On the contrary, they went down the road of releasing EPs, albums with re-recorded versions of ''old songs of theirs'' and various different renditions of specific songs. The result is that a new listener gets really confused and lost in translation with the band.

From where I sit, their peak so far is definitely the excellent ''Transition'' album from 2 years back.Basically, I'd say"Transition" is all you need as it features excellent brand new (then) songs plus a handful of their better ones re-recorded.The new album I'm afraid is a step back or in the wrong direction. Not so much in terms of songwriting or inspiration but mostly due to some unexplained to me facts. The first has to do with production. While they achieved an excellent sound with ''Transition'', establishing themselves in the genre , ''Labyrinth'' sadly finds them returning to a pre-2015 state. Secondly, the vocals. The issue with the vocals you have pointed out and I couldn't help but notice too, is probably a production-dependent shortcoming. This is really sad as it happened when the Osukaru vehicle started picking up speed in 2015,. Now it has to slow down and possibly start all over again from the beginning...

The new singer Lisa Eugenia is not up to the task imo and not in the same level the previous singer was before she left the band. Caecilia was excellent in ''Transition'' and to my ears, her departure is a major blow for the band while, I'm sorry to say, Lisa struggles and her accent and color needs a lot of work, flourishing and polishing to hold a candle. That's a shame because this new lady is a much better fit for the band image-wise as the previous one seemed to be out of place and at the wrong band and gig stylistically.

Unlike you, I don't have an issue with Werner's vocals at all when they are properly laid down and I believe it's production that makes him sound rough in this new album. Otherwise, I cannot understand why he sounded so balanced, mature, settled and brilliant in every bit in the previous record and now returned to how he sounded 2-3 years ago? I believe that they rushed out the release of ''the Labyrinth''for their own reasons and didn't give it the proper studio treatment. This is how I explain the step back in vocals, at least in Werner's case who was present in the band's past albums. In general, I like his powerful singing as he has a very distinctive voice immediately recognizable, especially if he gets to abandon that Bon Jovi/Blue Tears singing style and tries to be himself. Mind you, he is also a very capable guitar player that takes most of the main guitar solos in the band. His tone and accuracy are spot on and seems like an excellent ambassador of the Swedish guitar tradition and legacy.

All in all, I believe these guys have a bright future ahead if they give a bit more attention to detail and believe in the moto ''more quality than quantity''. If they restrict their releases to the quality ones and stabilize their band personnel they have a lot to offer in future. Songs like ''Arrows'', ''Edge of a broken Heart'', ''Blinded eyes'', ''Out of Touch'' or the new one ''The stories we tell'' are great examples of Oz's and his band capable songwriting.

Lastly, it seems you disheartened Oz with your assessment on the use of saxophone to a point that he abandoned it completely! Shock I dont have any issue with it and rather love it if it's done in the right way and in certain proportions. In "Transition" I liked the sax parts a lot.
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