Twilight Odyssey
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Twilight Odyssey


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The best kept secret in music


"HELLRIDE (December, 2005)"

Twilight Odyssey’s self-titled debut is a musical compendium capturing the essential grit and grandeur that has allowed heavy metal to stand the test of time. Each and every song on the album is an elegant amalgamation of classic and progressive metal that plumbs deep down into the wells of tradition to come up with an innovative style. This is because the galloping and dueling lead work of Iron Maiden, the scorching and strafing rock ‘n’ roll of late-70s Judas Priest, and the more angular and experimental moments of early Fates Warning are present and accounted for, but these time-honored antecedents are sifted, separated and smelted with a deft hand that makes Twilight Odyssey a distinctive band with its own identity.

One aspect of Twilight Odyssey that certainly sets them apart from their peers is the dynamic and dazzling vocals belted out by Pamela Berlinghof. The approach could be best described as what Kate from Acid would have sounded like if she had the regal range of Eric Adams, but Berlinghof’s voice defies such easy categorization due to the personal character and emotion she imparts to her lyrics. Berlinghof’s vocal foundation is a forceful, confident, and robust mid-register tone that has as much depth as breadth. But the repertoire she can draw upon is vast, and sustained screams that somehow remain subdued; syllables stretched out with street-savvy swagger; barrel-chested “whoa-oh-oh-whoas;” hopped-up-on-helium wails; sinister whispers delivered with a laconic hiss; and crisp, clear cries that crack the air like a thunderclap are some of the accentuating elements Berlinghof employs with the skill of a virtuoso.

Berlinghof’s lyrical contributions also merit a mention, for the topics are the standard metal fare: historical, mythological and fantastical yarns. However, these tales are conceived and conveyed in a fashion that makes them much more than verbal fodder—a fact that is borne out by the occasional gem of a line like: “There are those who simply come from nothing, seeking purpose in the glint of steel.” And the remaining members of Twilight Odyssey do indeed bring the steel with a purpose that is metallic through and through. Ben Asaro, the lone guitarist and the other half of the Twilight songwriting team, cranks out rugged riffs with a biting and blistering edge, making this heavy metal that is positively heavy while supplying a weighty anchor to keep the loose, limber leads and soaring, serpentine solos from spiraling out into the stratosphere. Both members of the rhythm section hold up their bottom-ended part of the bargain, but it is Gennady Khirich who garners most of the attention. The basswork is a consistent presence throughout, bubbling and burbling up to the surface, and becomes the sole focus during a handful of solos that serve as stellar examples of Twilight Odyssey performing as a rock-solid unit that wastes none of the staggering talent at its disposal.

This innate sense of poise and precision is also reflected in the songs comprising the album; for Odyssey is an opus that strikes the perfect balance between the epic and immediate conventions of heavy metal by being anything but conventional. Straight-forward and razor-sharp fret shredding salvos such as “Zero Hour,” which glides along at a speedy steed-snorting clip and clatters in and out of tight passages that wend and wind, or “Defiler,” a revved-up, rollicking tune that singes the air around the ears, and songs of a magnificent scope like the somber, stately and jaunty journey of “Under the Black Flag” or “Gift of the Southern Oracle,” a composition that marches and marauds until it progressively meanders into a triumphal yet melancholic final movement, are fired off with equal amounts of ease and finesse by the band.

Heavy metal of such a high caliber and sterling quality is truly something special and requires the effort and care that can only originate from a firm and unwavering devotion to the craft. Although this is the band’s first album, Twilight Odyssey has been wandering in the true metal wilderness for a few years now, and this release displays all the hallmarks of a longstanding labor of love. The layout, liner notes, graphics, photos, and overall presentation is top-notch and, when coupled with the mighty and amazing music found on the disc, provides a testament to the tenacity that is incredibly difficult to root out from among the adherents and exponents of heavy metal.
- Dave Burns

"METAL CD RATINGS (January 13, 2006)"

Score: 4.5/5

Of late, I've noticed a most welcome movement taking form amidst the teeming American metal underground, simmering in shadows beneath the clawing, grasping hordes of would-be metalcore MTV mallrat celebrities. The "movement" to which I refer is the emergence of utterly professional, largely self-financed new bands (or reincarnated obscure acts from days long past) delivering unapologetic, no-frills 80s-styled traditional American metal with skill, passion, integrity and grace. In recent months, bands like Ignitor, Icarus Witch, and Axehammer have captured my fancy even as they've captured the magic of American metal in the 80s. In so doing, these bands offer a breath of fresh air from the glut of European power metal that typically dominates my CD player. Twilight Odyssey are perhaps the most accomplished purveyors of this New Wave of 80s Styled American Traditional Metal.

Hailing from New York, this 4-piece has recently self-released its full-length debut opus featuring 61 minutes of grade A American metal. The first thing that struck me upon receiving the CD is how professional the packaging is, featuring simple, yet striking cover art, a 16-page booklet combining posed photos, live shots, images corresponding to the lyrics of particular songs, and detailed thanks lists, all in a color scheme that is thematically consistent with the cover painting. Many label-released CDs from such venerable powerhouses as Century Media, Massacre, Nuclear Blast and the like include packaging inferior in concept and actualization to Twilight Odyssey's self-financed effort. But the band's attention to detail in its packaging is not an isolated fact, but is instead symptomatic of the painstaking craftsmanship that Twilight Odyssey have devoted to every aspect of this release. A good example of what I mean is the production job, courtesy of guitarist/songwriter Ben Asaro. Consciously side-stepping the over-compressed, slick sound du jour favored by the vast majority of today's metal recordings, Asaro offers us an earthy, old-school sound where the music is allowed to breathe and each instrument shines through clearly. (Curiously, I've read posts on a popular Internet message board skewering this CD for its allegedly poor production. Hogwash. This is a fantastic, crystal clear, but undeniably old-school production.) To head off any misunderstandings about the production, Twilight Odyssey have taken the extraordinary step of enclosing in their mailings with retail copies of the CD a typewritten sheet discussing the evils of compression and their intentions vis a vis the CD's sound. You've got nothing to explain and no apologies to make, guys: Your CD sounds just fine!

And what of the music? Old-school traditional guitar-driven metal, plain and simple, with a variety of tempos and a decided flair for the grandiose, as 4 of the 10 tracks exceed 6 1/2 minutes in length. On songs like the standout maritime yarn, "Under the black flag", and the Roman gladiator tale, "Onward to the games", Twilight Odyssey display a penchant for Steve Harris-styled epics. Elsewhere, the band adopt a more straightforward stance on the rapid-fire "Endless days of a stranger" (the CD's sole double-bass romp) and the intense "Near dark". And I love how the songs incorporate musical themes that parallel their subject matter. "Plaza del Toros" weaves in what I could only describe as Spanish bull-fighting music, while "Defiler" (about the desecration of Egyptian pharaohs' tombs) includes a snake-charming musical passage, and "Gettysburg (The Blue and the Gray)" offers the bite and bark of cannon fire in time with the music. Despite their often protracted structure, the songs feature catchy guitar lines, a stellar rhythm section, memorable choruses and distinct feels, so you won't need a roadmap to navigate these tunes or a scorecard to tell them apart.

A couple of other aspects of this debut CD deserve particular praise. Vocalist Pamela Berlinghof turns in one hell of a performance, showcasing a combination of tunefulness and power so rare in metal's female vocalists (or any vocalists, for that matter). Sometimes, she reminds me of Leather Leone, other times I hear the Ignitor singer or the Backslash singer, and still other times she conjures Twyster's vocalist. Whatever the appropriate comparison, Berlinghof is an excellent singer and a real asset to the band. Moreover, I am extremely appreciative of the thought and care that Twilight Odyssey devoted to their narrative, story-telling lyrics, with each song transporting the listener to a land of Spanish matadors, high-seas piracy, Egyptian grave-robbers, or even Civil War battles (okay, this last one was done awfully recently by Jon Schaffer, but Twilight Odyssey's take on the Gettysburg saga actually predates 'The glorious burden' according to the band). Lyric junkies will have a field day.

In any just world, Twilight Odyssey would have been snapped up by a major metal labe - Twilight Odyssey - Album Review

"Metal Coven - CD Review"

What’s going on here? Does Twisted Tower Dire have a new singer in their ranks? No, naturally not, however Twilight Odyssey on their self-titled debut album come packing the best of epic US metal, and remind me…of the.. Twisted Tower from "The Isle OF Hydra" days! While bass and drums create a true kingdom or grandiose rhythms, the burning hot twin guitars deal out razor-sharp engagements… as if they were two hopelessly enamored Gentlemen dueling for the favor of the fantastic singer, who puts the songs on with …vocals worthy of the king’s crown. Again and again, high and pointed and then again strong and weaving it puts mystic…[ ].. an uncommonly enormous spectrum , as one does not get to hear in these times of bands such as Within Temptation and Nightwish; unfortunately this style is not found frequently of a woman in the Metal. It pulls you…, how outstandingly she sings a song like "Under the Black flag" or "Onward to the Games" and….why I am so inspired!!

Twilight Odyssey invites us to a playful US Metal fest that rivals the best discoveries of the past months. The musicians are masters of their instruments and the vocals fit like a fist to the eye. The sound oozes cult 80's flair, without coming across as muddy or sloppy. The songs themselves welcome us on a crazy ride through old school heavy metal…[ ]... the course steers for the best of what the last 20 years of heavy metal had to offer. Whoever has his heart in the right spot and likes wonderful epic metal, wont be able to help but get a copy of "Twilight Odyssey" and dive into a colorful sea of neat songwriting and impressive ideas, which rock just as much after a couple or weeks or months, as it did on the first day!

Score: 94 out of 100
- Metal Coven Zine

"Bright Eyes Metal Magazine"

My first impression of TWILIGHT ODYSSEY was immediate: Old school!!! The Yanks with singer Pamela "PJ" Berlinghof on the mic, offer us the best US melodic power metal of the 80's, with a distinct modern touch….

The best example is the 8-minute epic “Under The Black flag “', which is characterized particularly by very advanced songwriting. The following “Defiler”' and the killer track “The Endless Days OF A Stranger “ show again: Bassist Gennady Khirich and guitarist Ben Asaro graduated from the Iron Maiden school Summa Cum Laude (or thereabouts...) - excellent! …..Also the production has absolute cult status, it seems that somewhere the 80’s remained and, and this is precisely one more reason why this disk is so delightful! Click yourself into the T.O. world at www.twilight

Score: 10/13
- Bright Eyes Germany

"Metal Maidens Magazine"

Yes, it’s there: one of the most precious hard rock diamonds of this year. We were already blown away by their three track demo CD, but this release simply beats everything. Ten songs and a total length of a bit over a full hour, TWILIGHT ODYSSEY provides you with the best true metal imaginable. When the CD kicks off with “Plaza Del Torros”, we get a flashback of our one-day event with this band in their rehearsal room in New York City.

The IRON MAIDEN like choruses are mixed with the flashing guitar work of Ben Asaro and this is only just the beginning. I slowly start to raise my fist to the beginning of “Zero Hour”, again beefed up with early MAIDEN like riffs. “Near Dark” is definitely (Rita and I agreed on that!) our favorite song. Don’t ask us why. It’s the unexplainable magic that was there from the moment we heard the song in the rehearsal room. PJ’s vocals are clear and she’s not the screaming kind, thank God! Ben is a guitar hero pur sang, but the good thing is that his solos are in duty of the songs. He is not the MALMSTEEN-like big ego tripper, that starts a solo in the beginning of the song and ends it when the last notes slowly fade away. Wow, what a big punch on the face! With “Under The Black Flag” we finally get a little room to breath, after a great, almost overwhelming start. “Under The Black Flag” is a lengthy song with a lot of speed and mood changes. To me, this is sufficient proof, that the band knows to create a good song without stranding in too complex structures. It slowly builds itself up into a nice climax, in which drummer Sal Pellerito beats the shit out of his drum kit like he was chased by a seven-headed dragon.

“Defiler” is another lengthy metal song, in which we hear the strength of PJ’s vocals very well. The icely scream at the end of this song will make the temperature drop a few degrees in your room, that’s for sure. In the beginning of “The Endless Days Of A Stranger”, the four legged and armed drummer is unleashed again. The chorus invites you to raise your fist and yell the words out real loud. This will be great, when they play this fantastic song in a live setting. Also Ben is warming up his fingers in this song. One of the highlights on the album, that’s for sure.

After that, there’s again some time to take a deep breath during “Onward To The Games”. It opens with some relaxing guitar work of Ben, and it’s a little piece of rest with some great axework of the maestro himself. You’re gonna need it, because the band has got some more impressive pieces of art left for us at the end of the album. “The New Queen” is build upon a nice riff, and the speed goes up once more. “Gettysburg (The Blue And The Gray)” is from the demo. The riff is still magic and it contains just about everything that a good metal song needs. Just listen to the awesome guitar solo, and you’ll be flabbergasted for life. And the canonballs of destruction have just begun…..(remember WARLORD). Even MANOWAR would not have to be ashamed of themselves, if they would come up with a song like this. The CD closes with “Gift Of The Southern Oracle”, which is another, great, eight minute metal experience, written by one of the most fantastic US metal bands of this moment. Besides PJ, Ben and Sal, the band consists of bass player Gennady Khirich, who seems to be invisible, like a good bass player should. But without his input, the rhythm just wouldn’t be complete, believe me.

TWILIGHT ODYSSEY went for the highest score available, and they have reached their goal with an album, that could end very high in our list of best metal albums of 2005. Congratulations!

XXXXX (10 points out of 10!!)
- Reviewed by: Toine van Poorten

"Stygian Sounds"

This release comes to me very much out of nowhere. Hadn't heard a thing about Twilight Odyssey until one day an email showed up in my inbox courtesy of one PJ Berlinghof (vocalist) requesting airplay on the station. I get these requests often, but frankly speaking the bands usually suck. More often then not I get this sort of thing from garage bands who recorded their album via a mr. microphone with little to no playing ability. Too bad really as it makes sifting through to find the deserving bands that much harder. Twilight Odyssey is definitely one such diamond in the rough.

Twilight Odyssey is just a band/album which kicks you in the face from the start. From the opening riff there is just something unidentifiable which harkens back to the glory of 80’s traditional. This really doesn't sound power metal like much of what's coming out now. At the same time the production is clear and the sound doesn't come off as dated. Most of all this just sounds heartfelt I suppose. You can tell when a band is manufactured and this most certainly isn't. This is a group which seems tight, secure in what they're doing, and performing for the love of the music. There is a definite energy to this debut and it's due in no small part to the powerful delivery of Berlinghof. The riffs are also quite inventive while keeping that sort of classic touch. When listening to this release I don't feel as though it's the typical traditional rehashing. What's accomplished here is really no easy [feat].
Sound-wise I'm reminded of a sort of mix of Warlock, Iron Maiden, and Hellion the most. The vocals do bear a bit of resemblance to Doro Pesch in that they're female but done in a very 'metal' sort of way. PJ is definitely not of the atmospheric sort of female school which is most common these days. Mid-ranged, somewhat deep and forceful she comes off more like the classic mold of metal. The music clearly shows its Maiden influence in the galloping energy, but this is by no means a Maiden clone. Really it just brings the best parts of Maiden into a sound that's their own. I can't say enough good about this release as I find it extremely refreshing to find a band taking traditional and making it their own.

Rating - 4/5
- Stygian Sounds

"Sea of Tranquility"

It’s always fun to watch a band mature and grow. Years ago I remember hearing a CD from a band from Brooklyn, New York called Urshurak, who had some line-up changes as well as a name change and later became Twilight Odyssey. After hearing and reviewing their debut EP a few years ago, it was evident that Twilight Odyssey had many of the tools to establish themselves in the crowded world of metal, but that they still had some work to do. Now, with the release of their first full length CD, the band seems to be gelling as a unit, as their debut is loaded with plenty of classic early 80’s styled metal.

I’ll admit, upon first listen I was impressed with the power that the band was now possessing, but was a little unsure of the production of the CD. Upon further listens on various types of CD players, with headphones, without, and in the car, the production style became a little clearer. It’s very easy these days to expect the “in your face, crystal clear and digital” processed production sounds that so many bands employ.

What I initially thought to be a rather unbalanced sound revealed itself to be a throwback to the way metal albums sounded 25 years ago, back when Queensryche first hit the scene, and bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Fates Warning, and Saxon were ruling the metal world. In fact, much of the guitar sounds, as well as the way singer Pamela J. (PJ)Berlinghof’s vocals soar above the mix, remind me of the first two Queensryche albums. It’s raw, it’s warm, and really retro, which is a refreshing change.

Speaking of Pamela’s vocals, she has definitely grown into her role as a powerful focal point of the band, as she now sounds more assured of her talents than on the EP, and sounds like a cross between Pat Benatar and Doro, but with more power. Songs like “Near Dark” and “Plaza de Toros” see her conjuring up a multitude of styles and delivery, from melodic yet moody vocalizations to high-pitched screams that reach for the stars. She’s also gorgeously venomous on the raging and memorable “Zero Hour”, a song that has a chorus that you will be hard pressed to get out of your head hours after you hear it for the first time.

Guitarist Ben Asaro knows all the tricks of the metal trade, and if you like crunchy riffs, flashy solos, and plenty of pinch harmonics then you are in for a treat. Some listeners might wish the band had two guitar players, as the way the songs are written they just scream for twin harmonies and unison leads, which Ben covers here all by himself. The band had two guitarists previously, and have just recently added a new player who did not join in time to record the new album, so expect plenty of musical fireworks on future releases and especially live on stage. At times though on the CD when Asaro is laying down a lead the rhythm guitar parts just drop out and the music sounds a little flat without some rhythm crunch behind it, but my guess is either the band likes the sound of the multi-tracked leads with no rhythm guitars, or that this aspect might change a little on future releases with the added guitarist. Synthesizers are interspersed occasionally on the CD by Asaro for a nice effect, and I wonder also how much more of a full sound the band can get with a full time keyboard player.

Overall, there are just an abundance of gritty and catchy metal anthems to be heard here, like the lengthy “Defiler”, a song with intricate guitar riffs, catchy vocal melodies from Berlinghof, and pummeling rhythms. A song from their Urshurak days, “The Endless Days of a Stranger”, is once again reprised here, sounding better than ever with stronger guitar work and amazing vocals from PJ. The male vocal chorus “…destroy all evil, destroy all evil” is still present, and maybe it’s my ears but I seem to be warming up to this aspect of the song where years ago I questioned it. Other highlights include the weaving guitar workout for Asaro “Onward to the Games”, the progressive and atmospheric “Under the Black Flag” (which has some subtle Iced Earth influences), and the closing metal epic “Gift of the Southern Oracle”.

If you miss the sounds of the early 80’s when European metal ruled the land before the glitz and glam of the L.A. scene took over, then the latest from Twilight Odyssey will be a welcome addition to your CD collection. The all around packing of the CD is extremely professional and classy, with photographs, complete lyrics, and attractive artwork. Hopefully the band will get noticed by a prominent metal label and be able to bring their classy sounds to a wider audience. Brooklyn can’t have it all now can they?
- Peter Pardo


Twilight Odyssey ( 2005 )


Feeling a bit camera shy


Twilight Odyssey crawled from the primordial metal muck in November, 2002.

While working in a progressive band known as "Urshurak" (admit it geek, you know what we're talking about), guitarist Ben Asaro and drummer Sal Pellerito happened upon one Pamela "P.J." Berlinghof, a diminutive, tattooed vocalist of the female persuasion.

PJ and Ben rapidly developed a prolific writing partnership producing material that incorporated their favorite classic metal influences (AKA - "the drunken 80's) along with the more challenging elements of progressive music (AKA - "the drunken 90's). Soon after, guitarist Dan Castro and bassist Gennady Khirich stepped in to complete the line-up. The band made their debut opening for Angra at the world famous L'Amour in November of 2002. A 3 song demo was released in 2003 and T.O. signed to Italy's SteelHeart Records the following year. Due to "business conflicts" (tact, tact, tact!) with Steelheart, the band ultimately decided to stick to their guns and release the album independently.

Twilight Odyssey has performed with such well-known acts as Jag Panzer, Testament , Trouble, October 31, Symphony X, Pain Museum, Overkill, Angra and Nightwish, has been featured in magazines like Rock Brigade, Progression, Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and Rock Hard.

In addition, T.O. has also been at the core of New Yorks "United in Metal" tour and has participated in "UIM" shows with bands such as Zandelle, Gothic Knights, Magus Beast, and Overlorde. Recent developments include signings with Risestar Promotions and distribution deals with Old School Records (USA), Hitman Records (Japan) and Hellion Records (Germany/Brazil).

The band has appeared (and occassionally disappeared) at numerous festivals including March Metal Meltdown, Classic Metal Fest, Metal Mind Rage and A Whole Fucking Weekend of Metal's Metalicious Metalness (O.K., we made that last one up) . With radio play in over 30 countries and an annual draw of over 200,000 visitors to their independent web site, T.O. is poised to continue running the show on their own terms and being at the vanguard of the underground scene...or at the very least remaining unappreciated in their time.

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