Written by: The Administrator
Truth be told, I didn't really miss the allure of live music until I fired up ORYX's forthcoming full-length. I know, I know. Poser alert. Now, however, my organs beg to be ragdolled by the sheer sonic physicality of the five tracks contained within this beastly effort. I'm sure your all familiar with the feeling, but should you require a visual representation, the stellar cover artwork is a pretty accurate render of the bodily disintegration that can/will inevitably occur.
Needless to say, ORYX have been receiving a whole lot of airtime in the confines of our humble halls. This trio out of Denver (a city which, side note, is swiftly becoming quite the bastion of high-quality metal) delivers a particularly dense and blackened iteration of sludge, with emphasis on crushing atmosphere and oppressive feedback. The physicality of their approach is particularly notable, as is the songwriting itself, which leaves plenty of room for intrigue in the midst of slow-churning riffage and drawn-out distortion. No doubt about it: Lamenting a Dead World is a powerhouse, and that's before we even begin to consider the appearances from a wide bevy of talented individuals, including Ethan McCarthy (Primitive Man, Many Blessings), Paul Riedl (Blood Incantation, Spectral Voice), and Erika Osterhout (Scolex, Chthonic Deity). Quite the cast of characters.
While certainly excelling at a certain in-you-face level of aggression, Lamenting a Dead World actually finds surprisingly solid footing in the more ambient, expansive, and exploratory moments. Take the slow-build intro to lead single "Misery," which spends a full minute establishing a scene before the massive riffage makes its first appearance. The title track itself is a prime example--essentially four plus minutes of droning feedback and omnipresent distortion, there is nonetheless a definitive moment from beginning to end. The sense of dynamics and resulting ample room for breathe allows the more classically blackened sludge components to hit hard with a notable weight behind them. In this sense, they aren't nearly as claustrophobic as, say, Primitive Man, yet they still manage to deliver tunes with a similarly apocalyptic scale.
With a first act carrying itself with a visceral aggression, and a back half that largely feels unrestrained, standout track "Oblivion" is an excellent representation of what it sounds like when ORYX bring all of their cards to the table. But this is by no means the only track that feels like a marked success. In the many moments across the breadth of the album where things do ramp up into more nasty sonic territory, the blackened edge on Tommy Davis' vocals leave a particularly nasty mark. ORYX have a real ear for injecting sheer heaviness with melody, and, as a result, none of the five tracks contained herein feel overwrought, repetitive, or dull. Sludge perpetually seems to be fighting a battle with the audience to maintain interest, but here, the strength of the compositions and performances negate any such concern pretty damn quick.
Otherwise, there is the production. In a word: wow. This is almost certainly their best sounding effort to date--the lows are appropriately low, the highs are crisp and approachable, and nothing feels muddled. The drums in particular, helmed by Abigail Davis, have a wonderful presence that isn't overshadowed by the guitar tone, nor Eric Dodgion's bass.
Lamenting a Dead World--and the sheer existence of ORYX, frankly--serves as yet another feather in the Denver metal scene's cap. This is a fantastic effort, plain 'n' simple. If you like sludge metal that reaches beyond preconceived assumptions of a bogged down approach and sound, ORYX will undeniably sit comfortably in your wheelhouse.
ORYX - Lamenting a Dead World will be released April 30th, 2021 via Translation Loss Records. Pre-order here--check out those two vinyl variants !
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!