Thursday 7 July 2016
OAK ~ OAK II ...... review
The stoner/desert genre seems to get short thrift from a lot of the "metal" and "rock" magazines, "looking for the next big thing" obsessed hacks often labelling it as derivative and backward looking. This attitude amazes many of us who spend our time listening, writing about and promoting a music that has a huge international following and one that regularly puts on well attended and successful festivals throughout the UK and Europe as well as both American continents. In the right hands this music can be innovative, exciting and fresh, borrowing from the past but adding to it an edgy modern attack and attitude that in some respects mirrors the dark and uncertain times we now find ourselves living in.
One of these bands helping take hard rock into these newer territories came onto my radar in November last year with their debut EP "I" , a perfect blend of gnarly desert grit and metallic drive sprinkled with elements of psych and sludge, the band were called Oak and have just released a follow up "II"
"II" hits the ground running with first track "Mirage". A wall of heavily fuzzed noise serves as an intro into a riff so deliciously tasty you could bite it. Kevin Germain's fuzz heavy guitar and Scott Masson's booming bass lay down a deliciously downtuned barrage of heavy desert riffage under which Clinton Ritchie crashes and pounds with supreme percussive might. Over this tidal wave of groove Andy Valiant roars like a man possessed, his vocal stylings finding a crossroads where larynx shredding sludge power and throaty stoner meet, balancing the two in a breath-taking display of vocal prowess.
"Against The Grain" maintains the intensity of the previous track but adds a touch of classic/hard rock melody and structure into the equation. Valiant tempers his feral roar with a little melodic finesse, a finesse that is mirrored in Germain's tasteful guitar fills.licks and solo's.
"A Bridge Too Far" drops the dynamic down a notch or two and begins with an infectious bluesy Bad Company/Free style chord progression and sees Valiant switching to a low, clean but gritty soulful classic rock croon. The song then shifts seamlessly through a series of gear changes and time signatures with Valiant's vocal following suite and Ritchie and Masson holding the whole thing together with an impeccable display of rhythmic unity.
"Smoke" closes "II" with a mixture of bluesy swagger and gnarly stoner/hard rock packed to the brim with distorted bass, Bonham-esque percussive dynamite, furious guitar and gritty vocal power all combining to create a melting pot of pure infectious groove.
Check 'em out..