about%20-%20jpg.jpg reviews%20-%20jpg.jpg interviews%20-%20jpg.jpg gigs%20-%20jpg.jpg cd_review_ogen_blackmetalunbound001006.jpg
The implications of the title ‘Black Metal Unbound’ are manifold, all due to that fateful adjective. The ‘Black Metal’ bit is obvious, but what is it that ‘Unbound’ is to imply? The exploration of musical depths? The challenging and perhaps breaking of musical and genre boundaries? Or is it the simple declaration that Ogen’s 5-track collection is the absolute embodiment of black metal? Whatever it is, ‘Black Metal Unbound’ certainly lives up to the first part of its provocative title. Opener ‘Shattered Earth Volcano’ takes shape out of an ambient intro of growing crumbling sounds. Heavy metal drums and riffs gallop before the black metal vocals, tremolo riffs, harmonic and orchestral guitar lines and diminished chords emerge. Delivered at a frantic, urgent and insistent pace, the opening track appears to fly by and is soon over, leaving a feeling of bewilderment, of knowing that something has happened but uncertainty as to what it was. The arpeggiated guitar line that opens ‘Black Tusk Retaliation’ is fortified by a strong and steady rhythm track as the main melody leads into the bleak vocals and the chunky chords that flesh the tune out. The simple, repetitively structured song sounds like a one-man army, alone in his quest using only what is necessary to achieve his goal, but somehow feels weak. ‘Crest of the Forgotten’ is a much-needed up-tempo track whose textures are denser than what has gone before, its pulse injecting a little life into proceedings. The introduction of ‘As A Leaden Sun Shineth Upon’ returns to the mid-tempo pace that held the first two tracks back, but the pace is soon picked up and the atmospheric bleakness is laced with the urgency and movement of ‘Shattered Earth Volcano’. The slow section here is very atmospheric, as are the clean vocals in the closing minute of the track. But the furious intensity in every note and hammered beat of the closing track, ‘A Steep Slope To Desolation’, at just over seven minutes is as close as Ogen gets to being “unbound”, in the emancipatory sense of the term. The spectacular arpeggiated guitar line from around the four and a half minute mark to the end is truly atmospheric and outshines even the best moments of the other tracks. In each song, what can’t be denied is Ogen’s ear for detail and capacity for effective dynamics, but the tracks are not quite forceful enough. The production may be partly responsible for this as it’s a little too clean and flat to make the tracks as powerful as they could be. There is something missing from the songs too. At times, they sound too precise and laboured, the tempo too dragging, making them lack the conviction to make them convincing or moving enough. ‘Black Metal Unbound’ does attempt to push black metal into territories where its dim glow could shine a little stronger, but it remains a good but not great black Metal album.
Kolony Records
Review by Jason Guest
6th June 2011
1) Shattered Earth Volcano
2) Black Tusk Retaliation
3) Crest of the Forgotten
4) As a Leaden Sun Shineth Upon
5) A Steep Slope to Desolation
"‘Black Metal Unbound’ does attempt to push black metal into territories where its dim glow could shine a little stronger, but it remains a good but not great black Metal album."