"Realms of Odoric" is a special kind of dreadful. While it's safe to say few were preparing for Suidakra's finest hour, I don't think anyone was expecting the worst thing to happen to Celtic pride since the Irish Potato Famine. Suidakra had been on a hot streak since the underwhelming "Command to Charge," really the only other Suidakra record with notable flaws, before they released "Eternal Defiance," which sunk down the usual level of quality. "Caledonia," "Crσgacht," and "Book of Dowth" all proved capable of carrying the band's unique medley of melodic death/black metal and Celtic folk themes and instruments, but "Realms of Odoric" sounds as if a bomb went off in Avalon. Suidakra peels away its creativity, rubs on unnecessary vicissitudes, and somehow screws up the rich style they've used to create seminal album after seminal album. Artistic insolvencies of this magnitude are almost a thing to savor.
Suidakra is not throwing musical curveballs; there are folk melodies, the soft piece led by Tina Stabel, Celtic instruments, and Arkadius sounds like Arkadius. This makes the truth of "Realms of Odoric" even more depressing, because it's not like Suidakra just lost its sh*t and started throwing around random crap for the thrill of it. Nope, these tunes are remarkably lazy, boasting few periods wherein Suidakra manages to wake up. Stop-start riffs, poppy choruses, and dull-as-wood melodic death metal motifs plop out without an ounce of the drama and tension that were hitherto vital to the Suidakra sound. "Realms of Odoric" sounds like a collection of intro tracks trying to make way for a culmination that is teased for forty-five minutes but never comes. No feasible songwriting template means nothing may thrive, and everything Suidakra touches has the effect of King Midas with an itchy a**hole.
The largest difference here is the role of Tina Stabel. The longtime session vocalist of Suidakra sees herself entangled by the bottom-of-the-barrel songwriting, as her growing importance in the Suidakra machine is wasted by the same boneheaded traits that plague "Realms of Odoric" from head to ass. She is mostly reduced to a restrained performance in which she sings choruses and bridges without the gusto of cuts like "Birσg's Oath" or "Feats of War," as though caged by the horrendous writing burning within these tracks. Stabel's vocals still sound fine in spite of these issues and are the album's highlight, though it is all for the birds when the songs are already dead in the water. This is a classic example of abysmal songwriting ruining it for everyone.
"Realms of Odoric" leaves me wondering just what in the blue hell is this crap. It isn't an experimental failure, because an experiment needs, you know, experimentation. It isn't a traditional Suidakra emprise, because the brave and ethereal mechanisms of yesteryears are exchanged for a bunch of mild instrumental bits clunking around like a drunk stumbling out of a bar. It's too calorific to be an EP, too starved to be an authentic record, too bare to be anything but a massive waste of time and effort, which is what I'm putting my money on. "Realms of Odoric" is artistically bankrupt and just an awful, awful experience. If completely bottoming out inspirationally were a sandwich, then consider this the king of $5 footlongs, prepared by Jared Fogle himself.