Osees rightfully return to long, sprawling compositions on ‘Metamorphosed’

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Grade: 3.5/5.0

Psychedelic garage rock band Osees have been running across fans’ minds recently, pulling out all the stops in an effort to kickstart a new era after switching names from Oh Sees. But while Osees’ most recent tunes are in the same vein as their older work, this hasn’t stopped the band from releasing memorable music — all in an impressively short time frame. 

Those still trying to take in the band’s last release and livestream have a lot on their plate, thanks to Osees hammering out a new album just a month after dropping Protean Threat. Metamorphosed, released Oct.16, finds the band continuing with progressive rock and krautrock influences, which manifest as a meaty, mature record.

A riveting opener, “Saignant” is furious, gloriously crunchy and distorted. It’s an extremely loud and energetic start to an album, the raspy, screaming vocals barely audible over the keyboard’s warbling and the looming fuzz. The vocals even border on sounding like those found in the metal genre, which is quite out of Osees’ element, but the instrumentals ground the track in known territory for the band.

The much clearer “Electric War” tones down the intensity established on “Saignant.” But the song is still as dirty as it gets, embodying Osees’ well-known garage rock style, complete with soulful guitar fills that sound just a little twangy — weird enough to keep listeners engaged and on their toes for whatever twist that comes next.

Metamorphosed only has five songs, but don’t let that fool you. The last two tracks are about 14 minutes and 23 minutes, respectively, and aren’t unusual endeavors for Osees. It’s an age-old jam technique the band has mastered on previous releases and continues to elevate with “The Virologist” and “I Got a Lot.”

Drawing listeners in with a light, breezy intro, “The Virologist” is relatively mild. The song doesn’t employ any excessively complicated musical tricks — it’s still loud and thumping, however. For casual listeners who may not be used to long, progressive rock, the song may get boring after a few minutes. But for fans of the style, the song is nothing short of hypnotic. 

This purely instrumental track is fully immersive, and listeners will undoubtedly find themselves dissecting each beat and synth effect as the notes wash over their ears. The drums are incessant, the same rhythm infallibly repeating the length of the song. Frontman John Dwyer throws in some rich guitar work in the last few minutes, which is rattling, to say the least, evoking the same feelings as waking up from a dream.

But the 23-minute-long elephant in the room is “I Got a Lot,” the most charged song on the album, making up over half of the entire record. The song hints at gears churning inside the Osees machine and the band’s thought process in releasing album after album. Starting out with a pattering beat, Dwyer first croons, “I’ve got a lot on my mind,” but later transitions to the message, “You’re going out of your mind.” The lyrics slowly continue descending into paranoia and anxiety, but as the song winds down, the gibberish replacing the vocals almost goes unnoticed.

The band has yet to release a bad album, and Metamorphosed simply adds another trophy to Osees’ already vast and illustrious discography. The record gives listeners more of the genre-bending, complex tapestries of music that the artist has mastered. Each song builds on the album’s and the band’s “metamorphosis,” breaking out of their cocoon and emerging as a beautiful progressive rock butterfly.

Discovering Metamorphosed is a gratifying moment for fans who longed for more of Osees’ progressive monster tracks last seen on 2019’s Face Stabber. Though Protean Threat is a comprehensively better release due to its diversity of genres and adherence to punchier formulas, Metamorphosed sounds comfortingly familiar while bringing refreshing instrumentals and themes to the table.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected]. Tweet her at @callmepbj.