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Ominous Conclusions – The Outsider

Ominous Conclusions
The Outsider
by Mark Machlay at 12 October 2021, 3:44 PM

French guitarist and composer, Louis Nas, has returned with his second collection of songs with “The Outsider” via his instrumental progressive metal solo project OMINOUS CONCLUSIONS, released on August 20th, 2021. The initial idea behind the project was to be a metal band with many different influences – thus originally naming themselves HYDRA. Unfortunately, the band broke up and Nas would spend a year learning at Music Academy International (MAI) in Nancy, France. After that time, Nas would revive and rebrand the project while continuing the vision of having many influences while focusing primarily on progressive metal. He would combine melodic guitar leads with inventive riffing, mostly programming the additional instruments, and provide epic symphonic orchestration. Nas’ expertise in symphonic and orchestral arrangement comes from his piano skills which he has honed since the age of seven. It would be several years later that he would discover heavy metal music and thus the want and need to learn to play the guitar.

He would release his first collection of songs entitled “Prequel” in 2017 to relatively high praise among the progressive metal community. He would become known for his alluring and captivating guitar lines and expertly crafted fusion of various sub-genres of metal while bringing a multitude of other sounds into the fold. The website Prog-Sphere would exult “Prequel” as being, “packed with instrumental inventiveness and technical proficiency”. He then released the single “Christmas Macabre”, a metal/classical arrangement of the Classical piece “Danse Macabre” by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns combined with the Christmas classic “Carol of the Bells”. It would serve as an appetizer and a clear nod to his aesthetic direction with the creepiness of the cover imagery giving a clue to the Lovecraftian mood he creates on “The Outsider”.  The title of the EP references the H.P. Lovecraft tale of the same name. He is joined as he was previusly by his good friend Quentin De Tienda on bass and was mixed and mastered by Thibuaud Pick at Studio L’Artisterie in Lyon, France.

The first thing that will become obvious about “The Outsider” is that, while the technical knowledge certainly is apparent, Nas chose to create soundscapes and evoke feeling rather than having pure structured songs as with “Prequel”. Guitars and drums are the least featured instruments in favor of creating synth and virtual instrumental textures, relying less on a hard rhythmic structure. The closest he came on “Prequel” was the exploratory track “Absolute Zero” which featured mostly virtual instrument and synth sound textures with subtle distorted guitar noodling – that was very low in the mix – that was sprinkled throughout the track. Middle track “Part II: An Uncertain Escape” is such a track, opening with lone, forlorn woodwind melodies with glistening, jazzy guitar lines sprinkled in, going distorted about halfway through and adding drums in a bit later to give some form, but then gets quiet and ominous with lots of distorted guitar noodling sprinkled in the latter half. Opening track “Part I: Alone” has even less rhythmic structure but does seem to follow a circular form, beginning quiet and ominous with a repeating keyboard melody, getting quiet and slow about halfway in while celebrating the ominous tritone, and ends with a bit more energy than the beginning but in a similar harmonic structure. The whole song gave me a disquieting feeling, as if I was lost, alone at night in the woods trying to make my way out. The longest and concluding track “Part III: A Ghoulish Revelation” gets the most metal but still, not until about halfway through when the drums kick in and the guitar finally gets a little chug in its step. “The Outsider” is a wonderful soundtrack for a creepy video game or a scary movie but it meanders a bit too much for me personally to recommend it as a complete listen. I praise Nas for his talent at the guitar – some of the melodic guitar lines can really rip – but after finishing with the album I just wanted something with coherency. It was a commendable experiment, but I preferred the more structural and focused songs on “Prequel”.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Part I: Alone
2. Part II: An Uncertain Escape
3. Part III: A Ghoulish Revelation
Lineup:
Louis Nas – All Guitars, Composition and Orchestration
Quentin De Tienda – Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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