Monday, 6 October 2014

Oak - Oak LP


It seems like ions since I reviewed the EP by a Swedish hardcore band called Anchors & Roses, when in truth it was only last year. Since that release, the band have changed their name to Oak and have released a tape and this, their self titled album. They released it on vinyl in July with Woodhammer Entertainment and HoboRec, while the tape version was handled by Miss The Stars.

When I first came across Anchors & Roses, I was really digging fellow Swedes Totem Skin and Buried Below. This new incarnation of the band seems to be really pushing on and have recently completed a European tour with fellow Swedish band Murderofcrows.

Tracklist:-

1. Prologue: Modest Hopes
2. Chapter I: Torn Down/Tearing Down
3. Chapter I: Dust
4. Chapter I: Roots
5. Chapter II: Ash
6. Chapter II: Haze
7. Chapter II: Galanty Shows
8. Chapter III: The World
9. Chapter III: Each Other
10. Chapter III: Ourselves

Oak’s self-titled album is split into three chapters. It all begins with the intro track, Prologue: Modest Hopes, which is filled with rage noise and feedback. It’s a pretty intense opener, full of off-kilter tendencies and heavy riffs. Chapter I follows where Prologue… left off. Torn Down/Tearing Down is equally as heavy but does feature more obvious structure between the quick-fire bursts of grind. Oak flit between different modes and Dust nods towards their hardcore influences and lets the percussion dictate the pace. It’s still hellishly moody and the atmosphere gets ever darker. There’s a caustic beauty about Roots, which is the final salvo of Chapter I. The metallic guitar that was hinted at on Dust, rears it’s head further and adds something akin to melody. It’s a welcoming listen, that hooks you in.

Oak ratchet up the intensity further on Chapter II, with the writhing and smashing of Ash. Haze is their longest tome at nearly six-minutes and while it may seem to some like the track that’s most aligned to metal, it has much more too it. There’s some great lead work and bass-heft, while Oak show further glimpses of the experimentation they’ve been hinting at during the opening blows of the album. Their expansive song-writing does them a good service here. For me, Haze is the standout track. Closing the second chapter with Galanty Shows, your presented with orchestral strings and gentle piano in what is both an interlude and a moment to take breath.

The final chapter fires you back into the dark minds of the band. Guitar strings clash and bend while screams of bare emotion ring out on The World. It’s a minimalistic approach before Oak switch to full, epic overdrive with a section that is more than equal to the noise created by Cult Of Luna. All the intricacies of The World are soon forgotten about though, as Each Other fills you head with more off-kilter imagery. The screams burying themselves further into your head and the drums threatening to spill over the top, before more heaving noise elevates things to a maddening level. Ourselves builds with the kind of anticipation that is normally only reserved for the Northern Lights. I can just picture it’s majestic light-show with Ourselves playing in the background. 

It’s a fitting and soothing end to one hell of an album. It’s twists and turns, from grinding hardcore to emotive ballads shows great assurance. Oak have found a sound worth building and one which will separate them from their peers. Hats off to them.

You can stream it all here:-




Oak is available as a name-you-price download from the above bandcamp page.

You can order physical records and tapes from the below links:-

Woodhammer Entertainment - http://www.woodhammer-entertainment.com/products/releases
HoboRec Mailorder - http://www.hoborec.com
Miss The Stars - http://www.missthestars-records.com/category/mts-releases

Oak Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/oakhardcore
Woodhammer Entertainment Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WoodhammerEntertainment
HoboRec Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hoborec
Miss The Stars Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/missthestarsblog


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