by Justin Gaines
– Senior Columnist —
Turtles All the Way Down is the seventh full-length release from Maryland-based progressive rock band Odin’s Court. It’s also the first album of all-new material since the band’s 2011 release Human Life in Motion. Since that point, the band has become a three-piece with Rick Pierpont (guitars), Dimetrrius LaFavors (lead vocals) and Matt Brookins (everything else).
Over the course of the last few years, Odin’s Court has quietly become one of the very best bands in the American Progressive Rock scene, and Turtles All the Way Down is a perfect example of why that is the case. The album benefits from three key elements – innovative song structures, evocative guitar playing and vocals that resonate emotionally. Like Enchant, Odin’s Court’s brand of progressive rock is tinged with metal, but not so much that they fall into that all too crowded Dream Theater worship sound. This is more like Pink Floyd with just enough of a metal edge.
Band mastermind Matt Brookins (who wrote, produced and mixed the album) continues to impress here, delivering soulful, evocative guitar solos reminiscent of Vinnie Moore’s early work. His soloing never feels technical for the sake of technicality; instead it sets the tone and atmosphere for the album. And when he’s joined by Rick Pierpont the result is just stunning. You don’t have to be a “guitar guy” to be moved by these two guitarists’ interaction and collaboration. The vocals are just as moving. Dimetrius LaFavors has a clear, strong, higher-octave voice that’s just perfect for this kind of music, and he manages to make even the most high-concept lyrics connect on an emotional level.
Turtles All the Way Down is a concept album, and as such it works best as a total listening experience. There are individual tracks that stand out though, especially “Insomnia,” “The Warmth of Mediocrity” and the three instrumental title tracks (which sound so good back-to-back-to-back). The 17-minute closing track “Box of Dice (Does God Play?) is also remarkable.
This is such a powerful album overall, and another reminder of just how good Odin’s Court really is. Fans of bands like Enchant, Spock’s Beard, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Queen, Porcupine Tree and Shadow Gallery will definitely want to give Turtles All the Way Down a listen (or several). It’s time for more people to discover the best-kept secret in American progressive rock.
Genre: Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Matt Brookins (g) (k) (b) (d) (v)
Rick Pierpont (g) (v)
Dimetrius LaFavors (v)
1. Turtles All the Way Down, Pt. 1
2. And the Answer Is…
3. …But What’s the Question?
5. The Depths of Reason
6. Turtles All the Way Down, Pt. 2
7. The Warmth of Mediocrity
8. (A Song For) Dragons
9. The Death of a Sun
10. Back Where the Daffodils Grow
11. Life’s Glory
12. Turtles All the Way Down, Pt. 3
13. Box of Dice (Does God Play?)
Hardrock Haven Rating: 8.75/10