Written by: Kev Rowland
‘Metallia’ is the sixth release from Olivia Hadjiioannou, who kindly operates under the name “Oh.” so that us poor reviewers don’t have to keep copying and pasting her surname to make sure we spell it correctly. Before I even get onto the music on this six-track 25-minute-long EP, I must make a mention of the packaging. Firstly it has been released physically, not just digitally, as a digipak. There is great artwork when it is opened up, and this continues onto the CD itself so that it forms part of the picture. This depicts Olivia sat half naked on the top of a mythical beast holding an electric guitar aloft, and it feels very classical in nature, which also ties in with the artwork on the front cover where she is depicted as a warrior. The small booklet features the rationale behind each instrumental, along with details of what she played, plus more artwork. There has been a great deal of care put into this and I found that I was impressed even before putting it into the player – remember, ‘Metallia’ is a self-release, not funded by a label.
And then we get onto the music. If my ears are working correctly, I believe that Olivia is playing all the instruments she mentions, as opposed to triggering samples, which means that as well as playing guitar and bass she also provides the drums, toumperleki (the goblet drum – I had to google this one), violin, keyboards and vocals. Vocals here are used as an additional instrument, with no lyrics as such. The two words that immediately spring to mind when playing this are “intensity” and ‘chaos”, but in a good way. It has ended up on PA in the Crossover category, but arguably this could be in prog metal, eclectic or even fusion, as it is all over the place with influences. The title is apt, as first and foremost this is a heavy album, full of multiple types of shade and complexity, with a little light here and there to provide relief. Time signatures change, bombastic elements come in and out, and it really feels like the listener is being swept along in a maelstrom, or being put inside a washing machine when it is at full pelt.
But, the chaos does have purpose, and melodies raise their heads and allow themselves to be heard before again diving down again for cover as the force takes over. The result is something that in many ways is quite draining to listen to, as it is takes quite a deal out of the listener, at least if the correct attention is being paid towards it. It also needs to be played loudly, very loudly, but my sheep are used to hearing strange sounds going out to the paddocks and it didn’t seem to faze them too much. This is the first release I have heard from Oh., and I look forward to what comes next as this is an incredibly complex and chaotic album that is a real discovery.
1. Red Lion
5. Dragon’s Kiss