Ovate – “Ovate” (Soulseller Records)
OMG. This has gotta be one of the best black metal releases this year. Formed by ‘live’ Taake members Aindiachaí (guitars / bass) and Brodd (drums) and featuring an all star vocal cast of Hoest (Taake & Gorgoroth), V’gandr (Helheim & Taake), Eld (Krakow & Aeternus & Gravdal), Ese (Slegest) and Ødemark (The 3rd Attempt), this self titled debut certainly lives up to the elite level membership here! Despite there being only 5 songs, each one is over the 6 minute mark, and every one is nothing short of massively epic, compressing traditional Bergen black metal with atmospherics and huge amounts of dark melodies to create something really special here folks. Not content with the usual funeral procession and desecration, Ovate’s energy resonates a plenty across the material, with plenty of grooves, along with ferocious hooks and subtle catchiness to keep the listener possessed, but compelled to listen over and over again! The musicianship is nothing short of breathtaking. Aindiachaí’s guitar work truly impressed me as did Brodd’s fearsome percussion, and the vocalists certainly live up to their reputations, each one carefully chosen for a particular song and not disappointing whatsoever in their mesmerising performances. I really enjoyed the album as a whole (this being my 4th consecutive listen) with all tracks being on par with one another so it’s with great difficulty to chose any favourites as such, but the monstrous metallic groove on ‘Song til ein orm’ is simply unforgettable, especially when considering Aindiachaí’s brilliance in mixing ultra raw riffs with some incredible melodies, not forgetting Hoest’s perfectly timed vocals and expressions. Keeping up the momentum thanks to Brodd’s powering drums has to be ‘The Horned Forest King’ with Odemark’s harsh rasps themselves contrasted by the alternating decadent / epic riffs and yet more amazing melodies – like I said, there’s a lot going here on these extended songs and Ovate do a fine job of keeping it all interesting and catchy, but always impressively epic! Closing off is the giant 9 minute savagely slashing ‘Inst I tanken’ with its haunting vocals contrasting vividly with the heavy, decadent riffs and of course, never letting up in its intensity even during its less daunting moments where shoegaze type melodies come into play spectacularly alongside their more commonplace Nordic counterparts. An utterly top notch release – now I really know what a black metal super group sounds like!