Norwegian quartet, Oak, have released their third album, The Quiet Rebellion Of Compromise into the world. Consisting of Simen Valldal Johannessen (Vocals and Keys), Stephan Hvinden (Guitars), Øystein Sootholtet (Bass) and Sigbjørn Reiakvam (Drums), the band have crafted an album full of richly textured melancholy. Mixed by David Castillo and mastered by Tony Lingdren, each add their own sophisticated touch to the overall sound on this release. Confronting subjects such as suicide, it is hardly surprising that the album packs a huge emotional punch.
Atmospheric opener, Highest Tower, Deepest Well slowly builds up from its opening notes. This song introduces us to the essence of the entire album - intelligent, melodic and powerful in equal measures. The drums march majestically on Quiet Rebellion. It might be the shortest song on offer, but it doesn't lose any impact because of this. It has a gloomy aura surrounding it, emphasised by drama-drenched keyboards and acoustic guitars. Certainly a highlight of the album. The electronic stylings of Dreamless Sleep give this track an industrial edge, making it sound huge. It demonstrates that the band are masters at weaving catchy melodies within interesting rhythmic tapestries. Be sure to watch the video for this song. For the following track, Sunday 8 AM, picture looking out of your window at a snow covered, Norwegian morning, with just a cup of black coffee and a cigarette for company - this will help get you in the right headspace. There's some smoky saxophone present which offers a jazzy energy, but the brilliant bass playing is thick enough to shine through in this environment. The moody keyboard arrangements provide the required backing for the despairing vocals to really sink in under your skin. Demagogue Communion rocks with a certain confidence. I love the keyboards, as they add a strangely comforting feel to the track. The chorus is one that just gets stuck in your head for days and there's even a crazy guitar solo towards the end - it's my favourite song on the album at the time of writing. Penultimate track, Paperwings is the longest on the album and takes the listener on an emotionally dynamic rollercoaster. The beginning caught me off guard the first time I heard it, as trap-style rhythms and sinister vocals take hold. The song continues to twist and turn, making it the epic of the album - such brilliance. Guest Of Honour ends proceedings in melancholic fashion. There's some lovely guitar playing to be savoured and vocal harmonies that show the band hitting their full, sophisticated stride. A classy way to end the album.
Oak have created something refreshing with this release. They're a band that has cross-over potential to appeal to a wider audience and it's very exciting to see where they go in the future. This album draws on a wide range of influences and it's certainly another jewel in 2022's musical crown. Follow the links next to this review to find out where to purchase the album in its various formats and see some of the band's videos.
****+ Rickalonius Monk
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