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Ola Englund - Master Of The Universe Award winner

Ola Englund
Master Of The Universe
by Jack Harding at 15 May 2019, 10:00 AM

Ola Englund is a busy man. YouTuber, Entrepreneur and Guitarist for Death Metal stars, THE HAUNTED. It’s hard to believe he even has enough time to record this, his debut, solo record. Initially, I was skeptical about the album. Why create a solo project now? What makes this release an OLA ENGLUND record, rather than another HAUNTED or FEARED record? Thankfully, this album is a unique endeavor, that is totally and uniquely Ola, from head to toe. Showcasing his every single influence, from BOLT THROWER and MESHUGGAH to DREAM THEATER, and even PANTERA.

Surprising me most of all, is the wonderful progressive edge of these tracks. “Solar - Part 1” is a particular highlight, moving from gentle, somber piano to folky passages akin to the likes of OPETH before assaulting the listener with furious Petrucci-esque riffing. 11 minutes pass in a blur, which without the use of vocals is truly spectacular, as focus is never lost. Ideas are fully developed and experimented with, and dynamically the song weaves an intricate journey, assuring the listener never slips into complacency. Special mention also has to go to Ola for somehow managing to work a funk section into a metal song. It doesn’t feel forced and is a ridiculously entertaining moment that elevates an already erratic piece.

Whereas, for the most part, “Solar - Part 1” shows off a softer side of Ola, do not for one moment convince yourself that heaviness shall not be attained. “Cerberus” begins with a placid intro before kicking the listener in the teeth, with grooving, chunky riffs that grab and entrance. The moment riffs start to feel old; they are switched out, preventing any potential boredom. Some of these particular riffs could be transitioned between each other a tad better, but when the riffs hit this hard, it’s hard to care about the smaller details. In a song this relentless, Ola makes the wise decision to give the listener some much needed respite, with some phenomenally melodic soloing, that never becomes self-indulgence. This means when the grooves come back into play, they are able to hit with the full force of Valhalla. Heavy, uncompromising and damn enjoyable.

The overall consistent quality of this record is spectacular, but unfortunately it does make the cracks appear more clearly. The main example of this is with the final track “Slutet på Skivan”. This is the only moment on the album, where things just feel half-baked. Ideas are presented, but never really developed, and the initial quality isn’t there in comparison to the rest of the record. It unfortunately feels tacked on. Running three minutes long, the shortest song on the album by 2 minutes, it also feels like Ola himself knows it’s underdeveloped. This song is by no means bad, but it just lacks the same quality as the rest of the record.

Ola Englund has quite simply outdone himself here. It doesn’t matter whether you worship the very ground he walks on, or despise him entirely; this album is genuinely fantastic and well constructed. Ignore the label of “YouTuber”, this is not some cash-in. This is a portrait of a unique mind, presented brilliantly.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Pizza Hawaii
2. Cerberus
3. Solar - Part 1
4. That YouTube Song
5. Solar - Part 2
6. Slutet på Skivan
Lineup:
Ola Englund - Everything
Record Label: OE Produktioner
     


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