Architecturally, an ‘oculus’ is the opening on top of a dome – not something you’d especially want rotting. It’s also the name of a VR headset brand, and, as the cover art features a gurning cartoon enjoying some hellish VR trip, we can assume the title is in reference to the latter. Don’t be fooled by the Ren-and-Stimpyish cover art, however: this is an extremely brutal, if garish, offering – a debut release from musicians who are hardly debutants, with Joel Sta (guitars, vocals), Mark Wormmeester (bass) and Robbert Vrijenhoek (drums) being former members of Dutch death metal legends Pyaemia.
The tone of Oculus Rot differs from the stark horrors so masterfully dispensed on Cerebral Cereal. Whilst this is brutal, it’s also playful, with jazzy technicality, irregular percussion and the hint of a groove. There’s no room for slack either, as the Dutch men squeeze nine tracks into thirty four minutes, leaving you subliminally exhausted but thirsty for more.
Each concise offering revolves around a frantic – though never chaotic – motif, with squirming leads that threaten to venture with snippets of thrashy speculation, especially well-executed on the hellishly infectious Tornado Of Blood. That said, the album is best at its most dissonant, with Buried offering a moody, unsettled flavour, almost blackened at times
Oculus Rot is a squealing juggernaut of intricate death…
Leech is another high point, with choppy minor chords, tight riff maneuvers and moments of gloomy introspection. Splintered appropriately conjures a splintered feeling of unravelling technicality. But they save the best till last, with Tenebrous Worm serving a multiplicitous feast of chaotic fury, topped with glimmers of jazz and a gorgeous chorus. It oozes progressive complexity despite being just four minutes long. Damn.
Oculus Rot is a squealing juggernaut of intricate death, with mischief and sophistication in equal measure. Sta’s vocals are an acquired taste, harnessing a heavily-distorted, Babadook-meets-saliva-ejector flavour, but for me they reinforce the cold, post humanism inherent in the dark-tech theme.
A tight, ambitious offering from the veterans, who hopefully have more up their sleeves.
Scribed by: Fossil