Opus Dai – Touch the Sun
Record Label: Fantom Limb/Acropolis Records
Released: August 30, 2008
Opus Dai (pronounced “die”) are a four-piece progressive rock/metal act out of Los Angeles, California, who are quickly making a name for themselves with their unique blend of progressive rock and their explosive live shows. Touch the Sun is the bands latest release since their 2006 debut LP Tierra Tragame, and is the first to feature new singer Tim Neighbors and bassist Murv Douglas (along with founding members Atsushi Miyamoto and Jagger Gonzales). The band combines a wide range of musical styles to make up their unique sound, listing some of their main influences as Led Zeppelin, Tool, and the Mars Volta.
The EP opener, “Sandcastles,” kicks off the album aggressively, with guitars shredding frantically and Neighbors’ vocals coming into the mix with a very Mars Volta-esque wail. Immediately the instrumentation had me thinking of Mastodon, combining rock-and-roll and metal style riffs for a frantic, fast paced assault on the ear canal. Neighbors’ vocals have a similar sound to Cedric Bixler Zavala from Mars Volta, possessing a wide range of highs and lows and creating complex vocal patterns and melodies. “Sinking Ship” follows up with more rapid fire riffing, and also features some clean guitar which helps keep the mix interesting. The song finishes off with a face melting, quick riffing shred-sesh with some subtle screaming, though clean vocals are Neighbors’ primary weapon of choice throughout the album. After these explosive first two tracks, the listener gets a slight break with “The Day the World Stopped Turning,” which starts out with some acapella vocals, followed by guitar and drums entering the mix. The song picks up speed around the 1:45 mark with a powerful chorus, followed by a well-executed, though not overly complicated, solo. The fourth track, “Cry of Architeuthis,” is just a short filler track (2:13) of clean guitar over some feedback and spacey/atmospheric vocals, which have a good aesthetic, though to me seems unnecessary. The EP closer and title track, “Touch the Sun,” begins slowly with an acoustic guitar and showcases Neighbor’s vocal range as he twists and turns through highs and lows with flawless execution. Piano enters the track around 1:26, mixing nicely with the guitar and vocals, and at parts the song had a real Guns 'n' Roses feel to it.
Opus Dai are an exceptionally talented, forward thinking rock-and roll-outfit. Besides the short filler track, Touch the Son is extremely solid in terms of both instrumentation and vocal execution, and Opus Dai’s unique sound is definitely refreshing in a music scene filled with cookie cutter imitators and overnight success story “Myspace bands.” Above the vocal and musical execution, the songs are also well composed featuring chorus and verse sections, though these are varied to avoid redundancy. Not only are Opus Dai talented musicians who can put together a solid release, but with over 500 shows under their belt, the band has obviously worked hard to get to where they are. If you’re a fan of any of the above mentioned bands, or just good music in general, get yourself to an Opus Dai show and find out for yourself what all the hype is about.