‘A Treatise On Resurrection And The Afterlife’
(Released: 28 November 2014)
Sit up, world, and pay attention. Bog Oak are a bit special. This US band plays intelligent blackened doom, their raw, youthful ferocity moulded into something stunningly elegant. This four-track EP is heavy as hell, and it’ll take you to heaven.
The opening few seconds might trick you, very briefly, into a stoner mindset, but then the black metal influence envelops you, the fuzzy sludge sweeps away your feet, and before long you must surrender wholly to the unknown. Bog Oak have a beautiful, original sound. In some ways they are similar to another bunch of misery-magicians from Svart Records’ expanding roster, the bold Kuolemanlaakso, in terms of their direction and scope. But the Californians employ richer tones and subtle melodies that will make you melt.
Julie Seymour’s devilish screamed vocals derive from the lowest torture chambers of the underworld, and are countered with a clean voice that is not stereotypically feminine, delicate or soaring, but rather goose-pimple-inducingly dark, sombre and evocative. There is a forceful attitude spilling from her reddened larynx, at once chilled, laconic, almost grungy, but also bitter, grim and cold.
Seymour’s ingeniously understated clean vocals are what makes Bog Oak stand head and shoulders above the rest. The chorus to ‘Time Drift Of Seasons’ will make you burst into tears of delight, while ‘A Sea Without Shore’ (where the screaming takes a break) is truly one of the finest doom metal songs of the year. Original, fascinating, tender, enthralling, surprising, gorgeous, heart-breaking, unique…
It’s not solely about Seymour’s charisma though, and the music is an overwhelming ride too. Three minutes into the song ‘The Resurrection Of Animals’, for example, Bog Oak launch into one of the heaviest chunks of metal heard around these parts for a while. Their slowly twisting, gently thundering riffs are like a lethal injection, creeping into your bloodstream almost unnoticed and then – bam! There’s nothing you can do but die happy.
Lyrically ‘A Treatise On Resurrection And The Afterlife’ embraces the occult, and Bog Oak list a mind-boggling array of obscure influences. Safe to say that Mr Crowley is mentioned, though, so those of us unfamiliar with the metaphysics of Mulla Sadra (the shame!) at least know which ballpark we’re in.
Exploring the dark side is hardly a rarity in this shadowy corner of the music industry, but few bands do so with such grace. One of the best releases of 2014 – a must-have for everyone in the world.