A retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, Sidë Effects’ debut album Expedition is a versatile piece, for both good and bad. Coming from humble and mostly unknown origins, the Greek outfit lit up a couple years ago and only released their first album this summer; with goals and destinations not entirely clear, the album delves into the realms of heavy and power metal, leaning towards progressive elements at times. From straight up heavy metal rockers like opener Into the Sea, the album progresses through different stages of Oddyseus’s nautical journey with different influences setting the stage. The Island Phaeacians is more akin to an old school hard rock piece with its rollicking riffing and catchy rhythm play, while the Light on My Steel is a power metal balladic hymn starting off slow with the most prominent bass line on the album, growing into a catchy mid paced tune with some of vocalist Tasos Lazaris’s finest moments on the album.
There are some outstanding ideas and especially interesting guitar playing, but not everything really works out. The production leaves some to be desired; the grainy sound doesn’t fully let the depth come to fruition in the instrumentals, with the bass often being sacrificed for greater clarity in the guitars. That said, these are traits of a debut album, and there are only ways up from here, and Expedition does many things right. It’s a mere 45 minutes long, so there’s no filler on here, and at its best parts it has some phenomenal moments, especially melodic lead parts and lengthy instrumentals. The title track and ten minute epic For Love and Land draw close to melodic progpower, being the album’s heavy hitters and most memorable tracks, the title track sporting especially juicy soloing and melodic pieces toward its latter half.
The two instrumentals - Ithaca and Fields of Stone - toward the end of the album, are both cool entries but could have worked better if spread through the album. The former is a sweet, acoustic piece that might have worked nice as a closer, while the latter is heavy and Iron Maiden like, with flourishing guitars from Kostas Grammenos and Andreas Zografidis, with another highlight in George Nidriotis’s bass lines. Vocalist Lazaris struggles at times, as in the first couple of tracks he tries to get a Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black) quality going; whereas at other times he’s more comfortable, as in the closing parts of For Love and Land. The album plays heavily into its strengths in the more ambitious tracks; the versatility, progressive builds and folk elements neatly woven into the instrumentals make the best parts stand out. Conversely, the less interesting parts are just that; not very interesting. Expedition is certainly an interesting listen and if its strengths are expanded upon, hopefully a herald of further journeys to come.
Standout tracks: Expedition, For Love and Land