Reviewed: September, 2020
Released: 2020, Self-Produced
Okyr is a new progressive metal band from Brazil that has just released their debut album PREMORBID INTELLIGENCE. The band name is a word from the Kaingang indigenous people from Brazil, and it means “The Sound of History.” Thus, Okyr follows in the footsteps of Sepultura in embracing and promoting the native heritage of their country. That is where the similarities end, as Okyr was formed in 2017 while its two founding members were playing in a Dream Theater cover band. Covering Dream Theater is not a casual or easy task, and as a result PREMORBID INTELLIGENCE arrives as a fully realized representation of current progressive metal with all its strengths and limitations.
Setting out to prove themselves, Okyr display inhuman technical precision. Note dense songs are stuffed with time changes, staccato riffs, clean guitars, keyboard prowess, and acrobatic drumming. Vocalist Carlos Rocha breaks the mold with his mid-range and lower register, avoiding the helium highs of many progressive metal bands. The band confesses to many influences, and certainly there are passages where these are apparent. The main influences that shine through would be Dream Theater and Symphony X. Album opener “Apathetic” pays tribute to both of these bands with three or four different riffs and sections, before the vocals begin over a minute into the song.
As the album progresses the surprises are few but welcome, such as the death metal vocals in the middle of “Janus-Faced” and the counterpoint vocals in “Man in White” that recall Savatage/TSO. Predictably, the shorter songs resonate the most and provide greater accessibility demonstrated on the excellent “Calm Down.” “Panacea” also starts differently, sounding more like a film score than a metal song. This is the album’s longest song, clocking in at just under fifteen minutes and provides that obligatory “epic” track that all progressive metal albums must have.
PREMORBID INTELLIGENCE sounds fantastic, the self-produced efforts of the band rivaling anything put out by the big labels and bands of the subgenre. The album is quite a journey, and at times fatiguing as it overwhelms the senses with its twists and turns. Ultimately, there is no faulting the dedication and musical prowess of the band. There are some lush and beautiful passages, mixed with some quite heavy sections as well. It is well-trodden ground though, offering no surprises or innovations. That is no fault of the band, as progressive metal in general has become as constrained by expected templates as the music it was designed to counter. Recommended for fans of Symphony X, Dream Theater, Vanden Plas and other similar bands.
3. Man In White
4. Calm Down
6. Bearer Of The Pain
8. Neurosis (and The Attraction Theory)
Carlos Rocha – vocals
Jean Elias – bass
Tiago Alain – guitar
Valmir Pêgas – drums