Demarkation, Opium Denn’s debut (released October 23) is a concept album clocking in at a little over half an hour that is meant to “invoke the deepest parts of the soul.” Reminiscent at times of Pink Floyd, at others of Blue Oyster Cult, and at times bringing to mind Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity” and Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, the psychedelic progressive rock creates a framework within which the artist can explore “the multiple personalities contained within a single person” that he says he is.
The first track is the first of three versions of “I Am a Feeling”. It’s first iteration starts off with a slow drum-led build that goes from slow and intense to big and soaring. Vocals only hit around the three quarter mark. The piano that delicately pecks in the first installment takes centre stage in the second, slower one which is much shorter and features vocals much more prominently. The third installment features the fullest sound of the three, almost sounding like the two previous versions have been put together. I’m guessing that this is an attempt to make us think about how the same thing can sound both similar and yet different depending on what you focus on when you listen to it, much like a person can seem a certain way when we focus on a particular layer of their personality rather than taking in all the layers at the same time.
The blues-tinged, piano-led “Leaf” combines progressive rock with jazz-like influences. An electric guitar adds a little touch here and there. The upbeat, drum-led “So Many Faces”, which goes a little into alternative rock territory from the late 1980s, also features such touches. In the instrumental, drum-led “A Drone” guitars take center-stage albeit with a twang and some attitude. “Eyes to the Sky” features a marked increase in just about everything, from tempo to attitude. It’s the most straightforward rock track on the album after “Demarkation”. The title track is built on an electronic guitar-led melody that is at times intense and at others almost gentle. “Masks and Uniforms” brings things back down to create a spacy, languid sonic environment the various twists, turns, and embellishments of which will capture listeners’ attention.
Demarkation makes for a familiar yet interesting listen. I’m not sure if I just don’t get the concept Opum Denn was going for or it there is much more fuss being made than it deserves; either way, it makes for a good listen based on strong production values. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. While videos are available on YouTube. More information about the band is available on their Facebook page.