Island
Orakel

So often words like “atmospheric,” “progressive,” and “experimental” get thrown around in extreme metal. It seems like if you add any sort of tangents, acoustics, clean vocal or such you get lumped in with the “progressive” crowd — ask Opeth. But what was the last really experimental but ‘real’ death metal album you heard? An album that while still retaining death metal’s earth and vigor managed to be truly different?

Enter Germany’s Island, who on Orakel, have combined their two EP’s (2004’s Island and 2005’s Orakel) into one adventurous album of truly progressive and experimental death metal, and released the album that outdoes Sculptured’s discography.

As with most things German, there is an austere oddness and extremity to the whole effort, but at its very heart, Orakel is an atonal, angular, and unpredictable death metal album. With a rough, almost analog sounding production and pace that reminds  of Scotland’s Korpse, with its off-kilter structures and compositions, Orakel’s chock full of segues and tangents (acoustics, that will no doubt draw Opeth comparisons). And these tangents are never, “Hey, look how artistic and different we are,” but a more fluid and almost free form, improvised tone.

When not delivering jarring and stern death metal (e.g., opener “Journey Through the Jewel,” the first three-quarters of “River Source,” the opening lurch of “Grund,” the start of “Uber Dem Thal” and “Serenity”) that’s unpredictable and unnerving yet creatively challenging, the trio veers into moments of acoustic, violin and choir/chant-laced experimentation that never comes across as forced of clichéd. Moments of Orakel, while certainly Opethian in scope, are more sudden, organic and less artsy fartsy. Less drawn out and less pretentious.

Both releases gel together fine, with same production and structures, though the three newer Island EP tracks seem a bit more experimental and oddball. Closer “Island” caps things off with 8 minutes of sublime music that seems to hint at the band’s future direction. Material I will be patiently waiting for.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 8th, 2008

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