I first heard about Oskoreien after acquiring a fantastic compilation album by the name of Der Wanderer über Dem Nebelmeer. The title is taken from a famous painting, The Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog, and it also happens to be a Wolves In The Throne Room track name. And if you know anything about Wolves In The Throne Room, then you'll have a rough idea about what kind of musical stylings to expect from Oskoreien.
Oskoreien had been on my radar ever since hearing that compilation, but I committed a terrible mistake and didn't actually listen to the album until weeks after it's release. It had been recommended to me countless times, and I'd bought it soon after hearing "Ode To Arinbjorn," the track featured on the aforementioned comp. But it just sat in my "must get round to this soon" list. I've been kicking myself about it ever since I first laid ears on it. I think this may be a very real contender for a top ten album of the year.
"Illusions Perish" is a darn excellent intro to this record. The drum sound is incredible, and the shimmering (yes, shimmering) guitars only add to the sense that this is something quite special. The sound can be summed up by just the album cover itself. A lone man, surrounded by nature. It has that Cascadian black metal vibe written all over it. As well as Wolves In The Throne Room think Agalloch, think Skagos, think Petrychor. The final three minutes are something else entirely. The guitars now soaring, the vocals imploring you "...to abandon the past." Stunning.
It's not often that I get goosebumps whilst listening to music, but listen to this on a pair of headphones and you'll likely have the same reaction. There's something about closing yourself off to the outside world, only being able to hear the music and nothing else. Something that sits very well alongside the feeling you get from this album. That it's one of loneliness, solitude. Quite fitting for a one man band - Jay Valena contributing everything heard on this album.
There's two instrumental tracks on the album, and they sit in the perfect places. After the initial "holy crap" of the first two songs, "River Of Eternity" comes along to calm things down a tad. It's beautiful, all acoustic guitars and pretty melody. It's quite lovely. "Transcendence" hits next. The beginning is truly epic, again with a really full drum sound. Listen out at the four minute and seven and a half minute marks for vocal performances that could possibly be the best on the album. It's hard to believe one person can have such a different range of styles in one track. Yet, it seems effortless to switch from the husky vocal more often heard over the fifty minute running length, to a sombre and deep tone more akin to doom records.
The closing track is another instrumental. Whilst the last was guitar led, this is piano (keyboard ?) driven. Yet it still has a melancholy air about it. "Ashen Remains" begins and ends with a sample of a ticking clock. Time is forever ticking away, faster than you think.
8.5 / 10
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