Sunday, 31 January 2010

Öröm - 8. 90/100.

The introduction of this record made me feel as if I was in Chile, standing on the snow capped mountains, with the wind in my hair and the rain beating hard against my face, overlooking the modernised Santiago in the distance at one end and at the natural beauty of the open landscapes on the other. The winds of this remarkable land are twirling around me, dancing a merry dance and invoking the spirits of the ancient one’s that once roamed this land of freedom and liberty for all. These familiar feelings, once brought to me like a vision in the night, were conjured during a session of listening to the Chilean band Uaral, a band who inspirationally blend two contrasting styles together with dramatic affect. Doom and folk are often seen as the best of friends, but they can also be the worst of enemies. Its no secret that in life, its the one’s you love most that can ultimately hurt you the most in the heat of the moment. Doom and folk were intertwined like an old house is with vines that cling on for dear life. These vines attach themselves to the house in the hope for some affection, some love that the house may be able to muster. This house, cold and distanced from current affairs, sits lonesome on top of a hill, decrepit in its current state, but once so beautiful that it attracted the hordes of tourists.

The imagery that this sort of metal conjures is practically second to none. The beautiful soundscapes that Uaral exhibited were one’s I didn’t foresee any other bands matching. However, another unlikely source of metal in the form of the largely unnoticed Hungary has produced a mostly different, but subtly similar breed of beautiful machine that weaves its weary hands around our throats, choking the life out of us and sucking it through its vacuum like skin, drinking from our emotional core and sampling the emotions that make us feel so lonely and sad on occasions in order to use those for its own personal gain when it comes to this despairingly exotic and exquisite debut, ‘8’. This menacing machine is as dangerous as they come. Like some form of unstoppable anime character intent on destroying life by inflicting grief and sadness upon its naïve and happy ways, Öröm spring to life in animated forms, causing the listener to visualise their own deaths in colourful patterns symbolised is the perfect instrumentation. Let sadness grab a hold of you and take you to the realm of the lost souls, where damnation is apart of every day life. Öröm’s crushing combination of dark ambient and doom metal, with hints of gothic stuffed underneath like a dead body in the back of a trunk, is one of the best portrayal’s of this style. Considering I’m not overly familiar with dark ambient, this might not mean that much on a wider scale, but there is no hyperbole in my opinions.

This is truly a unique record and defies the genres with which it associates itself with. The gloomy and joyless soundscapes are inspired by the exact same things that makes up over half of what Uaral is inspired by. The only major differences between the two come in subtle forms. Öröm, for a start, do not include harsh vocals at a premium. The vocalist uses a clean expression and his native language which gives the record a more honest appeal than most others whom attempt to use the “universal” language that is English. What with being my native language, there is a appeal in hearing English vocals because then I can actually understand what truly does inspire the sounds instead of assuming and hoping for the best, but with Öröm, this isn’t the case. The vocalist is suited to his own language, as it is his and he commands it with respect, using his voice to display the oceans of emotion that go into making this record as emotive as it is. Having said that, songs like the low riding ‘Sírok Között’ indicate the use of poor equipment by this obscure band because the microphone shows signs of wear and tear and can often make the vocalists words sound thin and lifeless. Perhaps this was the desired affect. In conjunction with the numerous possible genre influences, such as gothic and folk, alongside the aforementioned one’s, the vocals aren’t the most outstanding aspect anyway, so they don’t negatively affect the record too much.

Considering the record depicts emotions along the lines of despair and melancholy, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that this was a ploy on the part of the band to make his voice sound as raw as possible. In some ways, it reminds me of bedroom black metal bands like Happy Days, who’s clean vocals are actually the best part about the features which include singing. Harsh vocals would not have worked in this instance, so its smart of the band to use clean, spoke words with hints of desperate melody in the vocalists lonely voice. Aside from vocal issues, there does not seem to be any other concerns, certainly none that warrant picking apart and criticising. I understand that this simplistic approach will not suit everyone. Its often monotonous and repetitive, though it does include areas of instrumentation that make it interesting despite being so. For example, songs like the wearily depicted ‘Sírok Között’ are a combination of acoustics, sparse bass and subtle, but moving synths that draw out possible classical influences, which is also shown in the piano sections on songs like ‘Levél’ which also combines samples of howling winds and a squeaky wooden swing to eerie depths. It is in this eerie sound that the dark ambient soundscapes really take shape and begin to direct the passionless record towards the oblivion that awaits it and that will eventually consume us. This record, ‘8’ often plays out like poetry, going through the devices that make certain aspects of literature deceptively depressing.

No comments:

Post a Comment