Thanks to the good musicians of Oubliette, we find emotive black metal striking a very nice balance. In their new second album, The Passage, you will find no half measures. It’s an in-depth beauty-meets-beast experience where the raw is very raw and the emotional output is positively radiant. Three guitars make for some extra depth of flavor within a tight tempo. Every track beholds something new in one shape or another. Emotive black/death as a whole gets the Artisan Era gloss and the payoff is pretty damn sweet.
In the first two minutes, you get the full speedy/prog package with “A Pale Innocence”, which leads onto opening ensemble “The Curse”. The varying motions Oubliette have to offer are nicely distributed across this song, from the neatly layered leads at the start to the steady metal rhythm there on in. It’s also our first introduction to singer Emily Low’s vocals, which are an extremely strong presence across the entirety of The Passage. The richness of her growls are impressive to say the least, and manage to effortlessly assert themselves from the very first word spoken. They are also fairly relentless. So make of that what you will as regards to personal taste, but one is challenged to deny their overall power.
By this point in the record, listeners should already have gathered the solidity of Oubliette‘s mission statement, but may also have realized that there is much more fun to be had. And so we reach the markedly intense “Solitude”. The blistering opening aside, it’s the clean interludes which really add character to the song, marking a proggier approach from the band. These more spacious moments allow you to fall deep into the relevant emotional mindset, which helps one to derive the album’s highly three-dimensional soundscape.
We then get a change of pace in “Elegy”, and some sublime clean vocals to boot. This track is a definite highlight and a wonderful journey that may well encourage the novice to dig deeper into the world of melodic black metal. Interlude track “Emptiness” beckons a slower tempo and gives way to the epic soundscape of “The Raven’s Lullably”. Following this, we get the remarkably upbeat “Barren”, with some beautiful keyboards to start things off… Or at the very least, I see it as upbeat. It has some triumphant rhythm with some empowering lead guitars, and an excellent breakdown.
We bid The Passage farewell with the adrenaline-fueled title track of the same name, “The Passage”, and this, in all fairness, is a thunderous way to sign off the album. The song seems to take all the best parts of the tracks heard previous and supercharge them for the grand finale.
The main negative I draw from much melodic black metal of today is not the standard of songwriting, but the fact that many albums consist of an ensemble of near identical songs. So it’s refreshing to hear a band like Oubliette injecting some variety in this record whilst staying faithful to the hallmarks of the genre. Listeners are taken on a solid journey with some suitable pause for thought along the way. Blast beats and guttural vocals will always be an acquired taste, but we should give thanks to Oubliette for applying ample richness to these elements.
Notable Tracks: “The Curse”; “Solitude”; “The Raven’s Lullaby”
FFO: Alcest; Tribulation; Ocean of Grief