Owl
The Last Walk EP

Owl is a German duo that has three prior offenses under their belt and on their record.  I haven’t heard a single lick of anything they’ve done to date, so I’m drawn into their forest bewildered and untainted by past opinion for this new release.  Patrick Schroeder handles drums/percussion and Christian Kolf multitasks on guitars, vocals, bass and electronic layering.  Rumor has it that Kolf may have played every instrument on this release, but I couldn’t tell that fact from Adam.

The Last Walk is made up of the titular composition which runs for over 25 minutes and is a hybrid of both traditional, gothic and funeral doom with industrial pistons compressing the song into a thick, gooey paste.  If you stuffed Godflesh, Skepticism, Warning and Morgion into a sack you might end up with Owl.  A withered trunk of synth drone and bark-stripped, melody guitars are occasionally offset thanks to some bass-y plunges that go straight to the bottom of the well and break off the bucket.  From the very first note I felt any positivity I had left in my system from the day drained out by a sucking, vampiric bite.

It takes nearly 5 leisurely minutes for Kolf to drop a burly, molten-doom riff into the mix, accompanied with his funeral pyre, goth-y baritone.  The delivery has a little more rise and higher-register expressiveness to it than say Peter Steele’s school of low n’ slow, but it’s still coming from the swamp of the soul.  An additional chord change is added to the main riff and things really get to digging into a juicy progression that sounds like Morgion on their way to the grave in a wooden casket.  Percussion-wise, this death in slow motion affair barely has a pulse except for a brief marching snare segment which crests the vibe back into a psychedelic, demon-haunted nether.  The vocals eventually plunge into a death-y, gothic rasp in a few instances, yet nothing I would call an outright, straight from the toes growl/gurgle associated with the funeral doom genre…it’s kind of there but it kind of isn’t at the same time.  An autumnal, vocal mantra of “Get born, get ready to die,” begins as sung and ends on a scream, yielding perhaps the strongest lyrical moment on the EP.

Everything is golden till about the 10:30 mark, the verbal grittiness and riff variety getting a little too tender for its own good, and the trippy death-rock instrumentation losing its direction for a nihil drone that doesn’t equate to too much.  Christian does bring back another mighty riff bent with some Sabbath/Candlemass might and his delightfully wrathful, screaming vocal vengeance that adds a few extra kilograms to the tune’s mass density, returning the attack to an altar with some semblance of destination again, which is quickly desecrated for a finish that’s too heavy on the Swedish melody and painfully lacking forceful, climactic guitar muscle.  Don’t get me wrong, 13:30 till 18:00 is fuckin’ perfect, though I can’t help but feel that this section should have been substituted for the endpoint.  To be honest, the second half’s five o’ clock shadow could have received a beneficial beard trim and the song would have been just as hairy and manly as it needed to be without all of the extras.  The space-y parts have their place, but they really just bog the song down when the riffs and other arrangements are this good.  Owl did enough psyching out in the build-up to sort of nullify its further implantation.  That’s but the opinion of one asshole though, and your mileage may vary.

Shave about 10 minutes off The Last Walk and I wouldn’t have any complaints.  This deranged duo certainly forges the appropriate primitive tools to make their special brand of 3 chord dirge stick.  Whenever the riffs are taking hold, coupled with the vocals there’s a helluva of an impact.  Like I said, they remind me of a really barren version of Morgion circa the Solinari masterpiece whenever they’re in that mode.  The introspective stuff is a nice addition, but I think it saps the energy out of the recording beyond the opening and drag Christian’s larynx down a bit as well.  Kolf’s vocals are good too.  They mostly never take it too sad, and whenever he whips into a glass shard cut caterwaul the mark is hit.  As it stands, this is an above average release that leaves me curious about their past works and their inherent potential on future outings.  It’s close, but I’m afraid this doesn’t quite have me reaching for the cigar box just yet.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
January 28th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: AR

    Holy crap, I’m loving this. Neat stuff.


  2. Commented by: Jay

    Glad you dig it! There is definitely some CRUSHING slow riffs here, and some very outside the box ideas here.

    I wish the length was trimmed a bit, and a few other things, but this is pretty good stuff. I’ve still got to get down to checking out their past work.


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