Portugal’s OAK, one of many with the same name on the Encyclopaedia Metallum, are a band whose journey began on their superlative debut Lone in 2019. An album of supremely morose and atmospheric funeral doom, it sent shockwaves through a Portuguese scene that has been slowly growing in stature over the years. Four interminably long years later, we have a follow-up in Disintegrate, a single forty-five-minute track that has me salivating at the possibilities. It is out now through Season of Mist.
The delicate opening tones are crisp, drifting like cobwebs on an early morning breeze before a growing melancholic riff and melody lines builds into the main body of the song. Big growls split the harmony of the melody line with an addition of ferocious pain and suffering. That power fades off again, and we return to the cold clean guitar and echoing drum beat. This exchange of light and dark motifs is really nice; the quieter passages providing respite from OAK‘s grand misery. Around the fifteen-minute mark, the swooning, lurching doom crashes in with a melody line beneath that really hooks me in, and that swelling atmospheric feel continues on from here.
We reach the halfway mark in the record, and it has flown past; a sign of a good album, especially when it is only one or two songs for the full length. The naked, emotive clean notes that ring out in a void of silence here is magical, the fragility of it all before what becomes a stomping, atonal doom crush towards the final third of Disintegrate. A slow-motion apocalypse of groaning, world rending riffs rumbling towards an inevitable downfall of society, humanity and life as we know it.
each dynamic shift becoming more subtle, every switch in tone between light and dark more engrossing, each bleak melody more heartbreaking…
The story of the record is of a giant who carries the weight of the world on his back, and at the end of his cycle will dissolve under the sun and leave behind only memories. You can feel this otherworldly figure looming over the darker parts of the track, as well as the rebirthing moments of the quieter tones.
How OAK have made this album so compelling I’ll never understand. Their artistic vision is beyond my comprehension, but their talent is there for us all to see. Disintegrate is a song that you can unpack listen by listen, each dynamic shift becoming more subtle, every switch in tone between light and dark more engrossing, each bleak melody more heartbreaking. Disintegrate is a wonder and we should all be hopeful we get more of these guys in the near future.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson