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Oak (USA) : Oak

Not everyone will be able to get into Oak. Droned out Death/Doom Metal is a creation that is, needless to say, hard to swallow...

Oak is a very common band name. When looking into it, I found that there are (at least) 12 different bands using it. So, if this particular group weren’t already obscure enough, it also takes quite a bit of digging just to find information on them. Either way, Oak is a mysterious little band from the US that has released two albums over the past four years. Interestingly enough, I discovered the band from a college radio station in my town that plays metal bands every Sunday night. Needless to say, this is certainly not the kind of stuff you would hear on a more commercial station during the day time.

Oak has a very unique and unusual style. It lies somewhere between the busiest Drone music ever created, and the most minimal Death Metal imaginable. Each of the four songs on this album is filled with interesting nuances and unexpected changes in sound; something new sticks out with every listen. The component to Oak’s music which is most readily apparent is the versatility. Throughout each song, long drags of cavernous Drone/Doom lead to huge explosions of harrowing and gruesome Death Metal.

The second most intriguing factor to Oak is the atmosphere they create. Considering the band name, as well as titles like ‘Inside the Circle’ and ‘Owl Eyes’, there is almost a sense of being lost in a forest on the night of an occult gathering. Yet, with piercing shrieks of feedback, and a monstrous, sludgy guitar tone, there is also an urban coldness that I have once heard in the rarities of Otesanek. Burning Witch also echoes in the mid-pitched screams of the vocalist, as well as periods in which oppressive shades of Sludge stagger towards the buildup.

One last influence that has undeniably left its legacy in the midst of this brutal assault is that of diSEMBOWELMENT. In fact, I would go as far as to say Oak’s motivation was to take the original sound of its Aussie ancestors and push it into a new level of slowness, going far beyond the depths of the Funeral style bands they initially inspired. This ties into another aspect to the band which I find refreshing; they don’t sound depressive. Well, at least not in the ‘melancholic’ sense that would seem normal for a Doom Metal band. Rather the mood set is ultimately sinister, evil, even possessed in its malicious tones.

Tying in the sick and vile atmosphere together is a distant and hollow sound quality that seems to reign from somewhere deep in the forest. Yet, the vocals seem to hurl straight out of a gutter, meshing gruesomely into the mix. As an album that has been shipped out exclusively on vinyl, the most accurate way to describe it would be primitive.

Not everyone will be able to get into Oak. Droned out Death/Doom Metal is a creation that is, needless to say, hard to swallow. It is without a doubt that Oak will continue to lie in the Extreme Doom underground for years to come, but perhaps more people will someday appreciate the experimental and bizarre path that this album pursues. Ultimately, if a mix of Burning Witch and diSEMBOWELMENT appeals to you, this is where you should be looking.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Saline
2. Inside the Circle
4. Gates are Open/Life’s End Belial is Here

Duration : Approx. 43 minutes

Visit the Oak (USA) bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-11-16 by Dante DuVall
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