Review: Onward To Olympas – Indicator [2012]

Artist: Onward To Olympas
Album: Indicator
Rating: 7/10

1. Indicate/Destroy
2. Strange Forest
3. Wolf’s Jaw
4. Circles & Illusions
5. Never Hold Back
6. Breakthrough
7. Division
8. Ceasing Time
9. The Truth In Foundations
10. Paralysis
11. Royal State
12. Holding The Aspects

Metalcore Christian bands are a dime a dozen, but there are a handful that stand out as the cream of the crop. Onward To Olympas have been one of the bands that have always appealed to me in the genre. Christian bands can sometimes be hard for me to swallow, being an atheist, but Onward To Olympas have never been a band that isolates the listener. Granted their lyrics have a lot to do with their faith, they use it in themes that can relate to anyone. Some Christian bands will write entire albums like a church sermon.  It is always refreshing hearing a band that can write songs themed in their faith, but keep it open for any listener of any faith.

Indicator is the band’s sophomore release on Facedown Records, which boasts one of the biggest collections of metalcore Christian bands on a single record label. The production on the album has definitely been cleaned up. On their previous albums the band boasted a rough edge, whereas this album feels very polished on the production scale. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but it does feel like it deprives the band of some of their raw emotion. I didn’t feel like the album held the same punch that their earlier releases did. Whether you chalk it up to a band aging or production is your choice entirely.

Another thing that has changed on Indicator is who is handling the duties of clean vocals. Their drummer, Mark Hudson, is pulling double duty and taking a page from Underoath. But the cleans just didn’t come off as something natural in the songs, they almost stick out too much. One of the few tracks where I found them extremely appealing is the 1 minute song where they only use Mark’s cleans, on Breakthrough. Where the cleans come off as odd sometimes, the screams on this album are easily the highlight. The depths of Kramer Lowe are really one thing that hasn’t changed about Onward To Olympas and continues to delight me.

Musically their sound hasn’t changed, they’ve kept the same formula that has put them on the map. If they have changed anything, it is the amount of bass drops. But I can’t help but feel that the album doesn’t have many defining moments. A lot of the songs are good and warrant a spot on a mix of Christian metalcore. But I don’t think any will be songs I remember for more than the remaining year. Some of the tracks I found replaying were: “Wolf’s Jaw”, “The Truth in Foundations”, and “Royal State”. All of which are worthy for their own reasons, but none of them stand out as tracks that would shock or stun the average listener.

It is no wonder “Wolf’s Jaw” was picked as the band’s first single on the album, it has the most unique range of elements packed into one song. It showcases the best of Mark’s cleans with a hook in the song that is one of the most rememberable moments in the album, on top of that it ends with a breakdown with some awesome interlacing vocals from Mark, Kramer, and Kyle (their backing vocalist). “Royal State” makes it on the list because it is one of the few tracks where Mark takes a break from singing. The slow churned breakdown at the end of “The Truth in Foundations” also deems it worthy of a second listen.

The album actually comes off as a fairly decent listen when all is said and done and the band should be proud of their work. But I can’t help but feel they have could of pulled more out on this album. I don’t know what exactly, but it just doesn’t reach the heights their last two albums achieved for me. I would say people that are a huge fan of their work will be greatly pleased with it. But as a casual fan of them, I wasn’t entirely there on this one. I felt like the production on the album robbed them of some of their passion, that the songs could have had more diverse elements, and that perhaps the cleans could have been blended more into the tracks. Whereas it does have a decent amount of moments that make the album enjoyable, it simply doesn’t have enough to surpass their other albums. They’ve kept me as a fan, but I do hope for their next release to have more defining moments.

For fans of: In The Midst Of Lions, As Hell Retreats, and The Great Commission

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