07 Jan 2022 - Knut
Post Black Metal | Blighttown Records | Release date: 07 Jan 2022
In 2017, the Australian band OAR released their first EP which even with a lo-fi approach was very promising. At the start of 2022, they live up to that promise releasing a remarkable first full-length album which gives a riveting listen with mighty soundscapes complementing the snarling and screaming vocals throughout the album. Add the stunning cover art by Osaki, with a motif from the spectacular Norwegian rock formation Trolltunga (“Troll´s Tongue”) stretching out 700 meters over a lake - it perfectly describes the music´s vastness.
At the start of the first song, ”The Blood You Crave”, you will be fooled into thinking that you are in for a fast Black Metal album with blast drums, fast bass, endless distorted arpeggios and screeching vocals as the guitars fade in at the start and drums blast away. It is good, it is energetic. Shortly after the inception you begin to notice the structures in the heavy and fast music. The drums do not only blast, the drumsticks fly all over the set. The guitar is not only doing fast arpeggios, there is a melodic theme in there. And the bass lays a rumbling, diverse and heavy foundation. The vocals are more Hardcore screams.
To paraphrase my fellow writer Thorsten in his review of Aegos´ last album, Post music goes beyond musical boundaries and beyond categorization as it is an amalgam of different genres. It goes above and beyond the classical metal genres. OAR´s new release is really a proof of that. You fully notice this around the three-minute mark on the first track when the tempo slows down and the drums with the vocals lead the guitars to a soundscape that seems endless. The music trudges forward when the heavy distorted guitar introduces a slow melodic theme. In this section one notices the Doom Metal influence in the music, and the way they blend it in is very imaginative. The tempo picks up pace again and the impressive drumming accompanied by the bass lead into Post Black Metal sonics again. The track is almost 12 minutes long and thus lets the composition develop in an intriguing way. One sign of good musicianship is when the musicians know that the music needs air, to breathe through its many layers. And this well-composed track is an example of this.
Well-balanced compositions are also the trademark for the rest of the album which is written and played with an equally visionary passion. The second track ”Doomed and Damned” has an acoustic introduction before the guitar begins a melodic theme. One notices the unmistakable bass that will be very distinct within the sonics throughout the rest of the album. It leads the melody and energetic drumming. The distorted guitars are crushing and a high-pitched guitar begins to soar over the sonics with a vibrant melodic theme as the pace accelerates. On the third track ”Perfect Agony” the bass guitar becomes even more prominent playing the melody hand in hand with the guitars and drumming to support the screaming vocals. Also, on this track a space of fresh air seeps in as the tempo slows and the bass guitar rumbles to lead way to an intense closing when the high-pitched guitar returns.
”Souls Lost in the Frost” floats into the ear canal with some distorted guitarwork before the track trickles into a slow tempo but is soon to pick up pace again. Around the three-minute-mark the bass takes over again. It is an utterly fascinating soundscape when the bass leads with the versatile drumming before the vocals and guitar are back. The guitar turns to chugging with the rumbling bass pushing the sonics towards a high-pitched guitar-line sounding like it has been lifted out of a Hard Rock solo before it ends in an almost-dissonant soft chaos.
”What Once Used to Bloom” is another long track that lets the musicians develop their music into vast soundscapes. The track has a slow and crushing intro and continues in Funeral Doom-pace with the ever-present bass to drive the music forward. Clean guitar picking begins to loosen the dynamics and a guitar floats into the soundscape, but it is like the pace of the music is tense before the release comes. When the bass and drums stop and the guitar is riffing alone it is like a nod to Tony Iommi. A guitar emerges from the land of Post Rock and loosens the music up for a while before the crushing sonics are back, leading to an end where the distorted guitar eventually disappears and the drums and bass fade away with a clean guitar over them.
It is evident that OAR consists of musicians with years, maybe decades, of experience playing metal-related music. They have really made an incredible album which shows that by having songwriting-skills, vision and the willingness to push towards widening the boundaries of a genre, one is in the Post-something soundscape - on this release in Post Black Metal with an album worthy of appearing on many AOTY lists at the end of the year that has just begun.