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New band Oak saw their debut Funeral/Death/Doom album released by Transcending Obscurity at the end of 2019. Comrade Aleks went in search of drummer Pedro Soares to learn more about it...

Interview with Oak (Portugal).
"Oak is a proper name for any Metal band, and there's a bunch of Doom bands using it already, but if you heard the debut album of this Portuguese duo, 'Lone', you won't mix them up with other bands. They present an interesting vision, with their atmospheric blend of Doom/Death and Funeral, so logically enough Transcending Obscurity Records were interested in releasing this anthem of grieving in December 2019. That makes this album still quite fresh, so why not disclose some of the details behind it, with the help of drummer Pedro Soares himself?"

Portugal's Oak: Guilherme Henriques (vocals, guitars) and Pedro Soares (drums).

Hi Pedro! How are you? What's going on in your camp nowadays?

Hi there, we are good, thanks. With all the concerts being canceled because of the virus we had the time to start writing new material for a future release.

Pedro, what are Oak's roots? I wonder what kind of concept you had in mind starting the band - for myself the closest comparison could be Void Of Silence, you have a few common sides in your interpretations of atmospheric Funeral Doom/Death.

This project was born during writing of the Unsettling Whispers (Gaerea). Some stuff coming out of the jams were going in a different direction to what we wanted for Gaerea. However, we decided to not simply throw those ideas away and instead grab them to do something different. So, this being said, as it came out of black metal jam sessions we can say that this genre is for sure one strong root of what we are doing. Of course we can name a few artists that inspire us to do write our music, like Bell Witch, Primitive Man, Convocation, Mournful Congregation and many others from different genres of metal and even atmospheric soundtracks from movies.

What is Gaerea?

Gaerea is a modern black metal band that started in 2016 and recently signed for Season of Mist. We both played there until I left some time after the recordings of the first full length Unsettling Whispers.

It's said you took part in one of the first Portuguese Doom/Death bands, Dying Season, which had just one demo recorded back in 1996. What didn't work with this band?

Well, if I just received royalties from every recording people have been associating me with, I'd be rich right now! Just a joke. No, it's not true that I was part of Dying Season. I was part of Survive the Wasteland, project I left more then 6 years ago, had some other projects that I decided not to go ahead with and of course, Gaerea.

So is it the first time you've heard about you playing in Dying Season? And what about Web then? Another coincidence?

Yes, as told you previously I never played for those bands. I don't know where that information is coming from but it is wrong.

Hah, that's funny… Oak is a duo, do you aim to perform your material live on stage? You have long compositions and as far as I can judge some of them are impossible to play live with only two members.

First of all we want people to feel the real burden this release is all about and if in studio versions we can add some more layers to the composition, when we play it live we put every emotion into that performance. We always aimed to keep it organic when playing live, avoiding sampling or programming stuff and if on one hand some layers are lost, on the other, the feeling we put into it makes it more special and unique.

Oak - 'Abomination' (2019):

Is it a rewarding experience to play Oak material live? How would you resume people's feedback during your performances?

Absolutely, the feedback we get from the audience since the first show with Bell Witch inside an ancient chapel at Viana do Castelo, is that our performance drives you through various emotions and it is a continuous trip that only stops at the end of the Lone journey. It is an immersive, hypnotizing and violent path.

When was the band actually formed? It seems like you have prepared such killer material as 'Lone' in quite a short period.

The band started mid 2017 when writing for Gaerea as I said before. Lone was composed in a short time because of how fluid the jams were going. The songs came out so naturally that we could have chosen to put more tracks into this recording.

Your debut full-length work contains four tracks and one of them - 'Sculptures' - is an extended version of the same song previously released as a single. 14 minutes was a good score in itself, why did you choose to expand the composition?

We do not pay that much attention to the time when writing.

By the time we released Sculptures as a live session it was still a work in progress. The song grew a little but the structure kept the same. We wanted it to be the start of the journey and then blend it perfectly with 'Mirror', the second track of the album.

How did you forge this material at the studio? How many sessions did you spend before you knew that the work was done.

It was very fast and, to be honest, the studio sessions were over after 4 days. We knew exactly what we were looking for and went to the right guy (Ricardo Oliveira). I started with the drums and it took me 2 days to finish that part. Then, Guilherme spent 2 other days recording the strings and vocals and it was already sounding very powerful at this point. We wanted this to sound organic and real and the producer got it perfectly. Lone is sounding exactly as we wanted.

What kind of sonic "message" did you want to transfer through your songs? What is Oak's spirit?

The lyrics are about the heaviest of the burdens that one carries through time. Different and unnamed entities face their dooms from the first to the last track of Lone.

The Portuguese Doom scene is quite small; can you say whether you have some unseen local influences in Oak's music or lyrics? How does your environment influence you?

Of course our environment in many ways influences our creations, however we can't really say specifically that we have local influences from the Portuguese doom scene.

The striking artwork for 'Lone' brings a feeling of some solemn yet beautiful fantasy world, do you feel this painting serves as a true reflection of your music?

No doubt! We chose Paolo Girardi as the artist for this painting because we wanted the cover to reflect perfectly the atmospheric soundscapes we have created. You can feel the burden of the ancient giant walking alone through those huge mountains, shaping the earth with his feet and slowly moving towards the horizon.

Oak - 'Sculptures' (Live in studio, 2018):

Oak are on Transcending Obscurity Records, that means you should have a gorgeous box-release of Lone. What does this edition contain?

The OAK limited edition box set has gold embossing on the logos and text and comes in an even better box that's sturdy and also large. Each one of them is packed with the following items:
1) 8-panel digipak CD on metallic paper
2) Autographed card signed by the band members
3) A3 size poster
4) Fridge magnet
5) Logo patch
6) Album artwork badge
It is for sure a must have if you like limited editions!

As the album was released about six months ago… What are your plans concerning writing or recording new material?

As our shows for 2020 were canceled due to the virus situation, we started building the concept of a new album and yes, we are already writing new material. Things are going in a different way and the next release will be very different from Lone. We cannot reveal much more right now, but expect a more aggressive and violent approach.

But can you at least say which elements of 'Lone' will remain untouched on the new album?

As it is still a work in progress, we cannot reveal anything more at this moment. Expect a more direct and aggressive recording but we are still experimenting and many things can still change.

Okay, thank you for the interview Pedro! What would you like to add for our readers?

You're welcome! I'd like to invite the readers who like our music to have a look at our bandcamp. These are difficult times for the bands and by purchasing our merchandising items you're giving us a huge help for the following steps. Thank you all.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Oak (Portugal) bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-06-30 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Thermal Mass
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