Review by Tony Cannella & Luisa Mercier
Sweden’s Black Oak is a tad bit different than a lot of metal these days. Okay, they are a lot different and difficult to describe. The bands diverse influences range from Jazz, Death Metal, Hardcore, Hard Rock, Pop, Prog Rock and of course metal. All of those influences play a factor on the self-titled EP from Black Oak. From the opening intro “Prescence” you get a sense that you are in for something unique. That is exactly the case with the opening track “How Does It Feel To Live Like It’s Too Late”. Vocalist Samuela Burenstrand has a diverse vocal style, she is like a cross between Hayley Williams of Paramore and Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy. That’s a pretty broad range and she incorporates both styles into her singing. The next track “Our Time Is Now” is perhaps the most mainstream song on an album that is definitely not mainstream. Musically, Black Oak displays a lot of talent and the songs are intricately written and performed. “Our Time Is Now” definitely became my favorite song and it is the one song that has an immediate impact. “City Lights” is another cool track as Samuela alternates between her more commercial vocals and her harsh death metal style, the contrast is quite interesting and appealing. The EP is completed by the “Loop of Oy”. At almost 7-minutes this is the longest song on this 26-minute EP and really draws things to a close with authority. Black Oak is a difficult band to categorize. I’m sure they would fit comfortably in a number of different genres. You can see for yourself, this EP is available as a free download on their official site. Black Oak is apparently working on new material for a full-length.
Rating – 79/100
The debut EP of this young Swedish band is opened by a creepy intro. “Prescence” is full of disturbing noises, electronics, distorted vocals almost resembling and android and suggests us the dark mood that we will find throughout the record. The following “How Does It Feel to Live Like It’s Too Late” starts with a prog/avantgarde approach while Samuéla, Emil e Niklas sing, mixing clean female vocals, growls and male vocals. She shows a certain versatility since she can scream, but also be a lot softer. I’d say there is also a certain metalcore influence towards the end of the track. 100% prog rock is the beginning of “Our Time Is Now”, while the track is a mix of straightforward rock, heavy metal and progressive with a quite anthemic chorus. A video has been shot for “City Lights” where again progressive (which apparently is a big influence on the band), metalcore and melodic metal mix to give birth to a catchy song with an interesting chorus. Best choice as a single. In the vein of the previous ones is also the closing track “Loop of Oy”, very melodic, but with metalcore moments. I also got the booklet with the album and I can say that the lyrics show a certain social effort, a plead to fight, to improve our world. The potential of this band is quite interesting. I am eager to listen to a future full-length release.
Rating – 70/100
- How Does It Feel to Live Like It’s Too Late
- Our Time Is Now
- City Lights
- Loop of Oy
- Samuéla Burenstrand – Clean & Harsh Vocals
- Emil Fredenmark – Guitar & Backing Vocals
- Niklas Olsson – Guitar & Backing Vocals
- Magnus Hedblom – Bass
- Hugo Tigenius – Drums & Percussion