Osada Vida: Particles

The Poles refine their sound on this slick return.

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Bravery isn’t exactly something that’s ever been lacking within progressive music, but with this release, the hazardous gamble that Osada Vida have taken is worthy of widespread admiration.

Previously, the Polish band were acclaimed for creating pretty dark, engagingly complex tracks that at times bordered on the claustrophobic. Indeed, there were times when they were simply lumped in with the multitude of template, progressive metal bands – something which did them a vast disservice. Hidden away in the riffing, there were regular intervals of lighter creativity and ingenuous atmospheric changes, all of which contributed to Osada Vida’s absorbing aura.

They clearly realised that this was a distinguishing feature and, possibly due to the input of their new frontman Marek Majewski, Particles is a breezier and far more accessible release than anything they’ve previously attempted. Long term fans needn’t worry though. This isn’t a blatant attempt at commercialism or anything like the startling metamorphosis that, for example, Yes or Genesis undertook in the early 80s. It’s purely a fine-tuning of their sound that retains all the facets that made Osada Vida so appealing in the first place.

Perfectly encompassing this freshness is the magnificent opener Hard-Boiled Wonderland, which manages to productively unify their technical prowess with an embracing catchiness, not unlike the approach unleashed by It Bites on Once Around The World. The same can be said of Different Worlds, which possesses honky tonk piano, jazzy bass lines and catchy vocals, all somehow delicately stuffed into five and a half minutes.

Osada Vida are however wise enough to ensure that they still preserve some of the heaviness which dictated their sound over recent years, even if some of the superfluity has been removed. The straight-ahead rock of Mighty World and the hefty guitar and gruff, distorted vocals on Shut will undoubtedly appease and delight those who worship their more metallic side. Even their jazzy cover of Metallica’s Master Of Puppets is riveting.

There’s a diversity demonstrated here that gives Particles the feel of a greatest hits album. They even venture into AOR territory with the power ballad Until You’re Gone and their more experimental leanings are shown on the instrumental David’s Wasp. Some might find such an assortment rather disconcerting; others will rightly see it as the mark of a maturing band comfortable with their influences.

It’s to Osada Vida’s credit that they’ve developed their core sound with such aplomb. It’s a rare feat, propelling the band towards an even more intriguing future.