Canadian band Inner Odyssey was founded in 2007 in the city of Quebec by Vincent Leboeuf Gadreau, a than seventeen-year-old college student. After three years he rounded up the final line-up to record and release their debut album; Have A Seat (see review) in 2011. The band had turned out to be a quintet at the time, consisting of; Gadreau on guitars and vocals, Pier-Luc Garand Dion as lead vocalist, Mathieu Chamberland as keyboard player, bass player Simon Gourdeau and drummer, vocalist Étienne Dyon. The album got plenty of great reviews, which brought them the recognition they needed to move forward, resulting in a large number of live performances with well-known progressive bands. When Inner Odyssey entered the studio for the successor album, it became clear the band would not continue with their lead vocalist, as a result of the well-known musical differences. A replacement however was found in their own ranks and drummer Étienne Dyon took the role of frontman, live backed up with a drummer, who would fill in during the live concerts. I guess replacing your lead vocalist for your drummer has proven to be a perfect move in bands; Spock's Beard for example, or at least a decent follow up for the previous singer; Genesis. Both statements here are purely my opinion, and I do respect it if your opinion differs from mine. Now the 2015 album Ascension was recorded as a quartet with the addition of guests on flute and Rhodes piano.
Musically Inner Odyssey has chosen for a concept album a subject which asks the more important questions of life. A rather demanding concept, executed with a fair deal of darkness and desperation. Therefore, the music on Ascension tends to find itself in the area of bands such as Wolverine at some points, but even more, the Porcupine Tree or Steven Wilson references come to mind. The opening bass lines for Something More are similar to Porcupine Tree, but the funky rhythm of the guitar indicates otherwise. On the other hand, Étienne's vocals are as smooth and unforced powerful as Porcupine Tree's main man. During other parts Mariusz Duda of Riverside fame comes in mind, when you listen to the vocals; A World Of My Own is a good example. Although there is a kind of darkness over the songs, there is always a sort of catchiness in the composition, as well as strong technical parts. The whole album can be seen as an outing of emotion, listen to Introspection, a very strong piano-laden ballad, where the vocals reach their high point. The instrumental Retrospection shows the technical side of Inner Odyssey, where the strong guitar riffs are accompanied by a great sounding, soaring keyboard. I guess this track is Vincent's moment of fame on the album and he really shines during this favourite of mine. For the devotees of long epic compositions, the grand finale; Where It Begins, Where It Ends is an obligated track to listen to. All the elements of an epic song are used, from bombastic keyboards to very strong guitar solos and melodies, mood and tempo changes topped with a really fine voice.
Ascension turns out to be an absolutely brilliant album, if you can appreciate the aforementioned bands and musicians. The slight dark atmosphere works perfectly with the vocals. This is an album you will love and play over and over again.
Where I was writing the allegory of the band earlier, I have to complete my writings with the additional information, that Inner Odyssey will start to work on a third album with a reformed line-up. Both keyboard player Chamberland as well as bass player Gourdeau departed and saw them replaced by Rachel Hardy on bass and vocals and Matthieu Cossette on keyboards and vocals.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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