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Oak - Disintegrate review

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Band: Oak
Album: Disintegrate
Release date: February 2023

01. Disintegrate

As time goes on, more and more post-metal seems to bleed into the black metal skeleton of Gaerea’s music. Therefore, perhaps it’s not surprising that when members of Gaerea take a stab at extreme doom, there’s also a subtle current of post-metal flowing through the result as well.

Disintegrate is the sophomore release from Oak the side-project of Gaerea guitarist (and, as of last year, also vocalist) Guilherme Henriques, with former Gaerea drummer Pedro Soares filling in on the kit. Unlike certain side-projects, Oak reflects musical interests of Henriques that are clearly distinct from those that dominate his primary project. What Oak also demonstrates is his versatility, as Disintegrate is a highly accomplished effort for this style.

If you look at that vortex on the cover, it’s possible, if you’re like me, that your mind might go to Echoes, the sophomore effort from Wills Dissolve, and like Echoes, Disintegrate is a single song, this one clocking in at just under 45 minutes. It also has a similar ebb and flow to Echoes, but musically, the similarities end there; in terms of albums with vortices on the cover, I’m more reminded of Streams Inwards by Mar De Grises, as far as doom with subtle post-metal influences are concerned, but even that might not be all that helpful as a comparison. I’ve seen other places tag Disintegrate as funeral doom, and arguably it’s an appropriate definition based on its pacing, but this is the kind of funeral doom that is about as likely tas any record in the style to be accessible to those voicing their challenges with enjoying the genre on the recent Ahab album thread.

If I’m inclined to compare Oak to any band, I feel like the vibe and tempo of the most consistent sound heard on Disintegrate is arguably closer to the early Swallow The Sun records, specifically The Morning Never Came and Ghosts Of Loss, than a lot funeral doom bands. There is an accessible tempo to a lot of the record, as well as a lot of the melancholia that seeped into those early STS albums. At least, that’s the case earlier on; the more Disintegrate progresses, the more extremity enters the mix, with hefty menacing chords, pained growls, bursts of blasts, and general bleakness. It’s a stark contrast to the tender delicacy that the song opens with, both sorrowful guitar melodies and featherlight clean passages offering plenty of melancholia.

Those post-metal elements that I led off the review with, they’re not super-present, but they’re also clearly lurking in the mix, at least in the first half. The bands that inspire comparison, though, are less the traditional post-metal bands and more so heavier post-rock groups such as A Swarm Of The Sun, Silent Whale Becomes A° Dream, and Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster, the latter especially so in some of the quietest moments, which send my mind right to the achingly poignant moments on “Wake” from their record Exegesis. Aside from the dynamic ebb and flow of “Disintegrate”, the post- elements come more in the fairly liberal use of evocative tremolo layers, particularly in the first 20 minutes or so of the song, and these layers weave in nicely alongside the trudging riffs, the sad lead guitar melodies, and occasional texturing keyboards.

As a 45-minute single song that, if not entirely located within the genre, at least lives on the borders of funeral doom, Disintegrate will absolutely not be for everyone. However, due to its different textures and tones, I think it’s got the capacity to appeal to more people than one might expect, and it’s certainly helped by how well put together it is. It’s certainly not an album that feels like it's been strictly edited down, but it’s also not a song that’s drowning in excess; the shifting tone from soft and sad to menacing and bleak across the record, and the pace that it’s progressed at, works out very nicely in terms of delivering a satisfying experience, and the final reprise of more melancholic emotions as it reaches its conclusion rounds Disintegrate off very nicely. The name and the style are different from Gaerea’s Mirage last year, but Henriques’ musical endeavours in 2023 are similarly impressive.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8

Written on 16.02.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 5   Visited by: 90 users
17.02.2023 - 12:58
Rating: 7

I thought this was pretty good, especially considering I struggle with most doom.
"Perception and fact, all the same: the truth's what you feel..."

Unpopular opinions is my middle name.
17.02.2023 - 18:07
Rating: 8

The beginning reminds me of a song, but cant figure out which otherwise is a good album, will come back to it quite often this year, for sure.
17.02.2023 - 20:37
Rating: 8

It just flows naturally throughout its length which makes it a smooth listen (not easy for a single 45 doom piece). My favourite release of the year so far
18.02.2023 - 17:28

Far out, man.
That rug really tied the room together, did it not?
25.02.2023 - 17:37
Rating: 8
I'm sure it was projecting, to some extent, since I went into this knowing that it was a Gaerea affiliate, but I do hear some elements of Gaerea in it - it must be the intrusion of post-metal influences into both, as you pointed out. "Disintegrate" is surprisingly listenable for a 45-minute doom song. I can see myself coming back to this.
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