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Owl for Those With a Short Attention Span - 81%

TheStormIRide, June 8th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Zeitgeister Music

Owl is the brainchild of German multi-instrumentalist Christian Kolf and drummer Patrick Schroeder, who have both been involved with various projects throughout the years; most notably Valborg. Since their 2010 formation, Owl has released two full length albums, Owl (2011) and You Are the Moon, I Am the Night (2013), and has now dropped their first EP, Into the Absolute in 2014. I was immediately interested in how Owl's formula of long and drawn out progressive and doomy death metal would translate onto a shorter format, because prior to this EP, most of Owl's songs were over ten minutes and here we have four tracks accounting for less than twenty minutes.

Into the Absolute has similar vibes to its predecessor, but it's streamlined into an easier pill to swallow. You Are the Moon, I Am the Night was an excellent album full of doomy death metal, progressive song structures and atmospheric ambiance but it required patience and concentration. Into the Absolute takes the same formula, but drops a lot of the simmering song structures and slow-building crescendos in favor of more straight forward approach. That is, if you can still consider this straight forward, as this EP explores everything from dredging doomy death metal to post-rock melodies and ambient interjections.

Pinning down Owl's sound is rather difficult. Take “Unearthly Aracana” for example, as scratchy growled vocals and light keyboards soar over blasting drums and a crushing riff which somehow morph into spiraling melodic guitar patterns mimicking the atmospheric sludge scene that are juxtaposed against rollicking double bass beats and strained, hollow baritone vocals. “Into the Absolute” takes rhythmic old school death metal riffing and runs, eventually building into a segment of dreamy post-rock, of all things. “We Ascend the Fall” kind of fills in the remaining gaps between the staunch death metal with keyboards and almost haunting atmospheric sludginess. And I guess a band who gave us a thirty minute ambient piece on their last album couldn't completely steer clear, as “Apparition” is a short three minute piece exuding darkness and melancholy.

Despite how much is going on underneath the surface, Owl is able to keep Into the Absolute a flowing piece. Like I said, Owl is a many headed beast that is difficult to pigeonhole, but they lie somewhere in the realms of doomy death metal and atmospheric sludge. Much like their earlier work, the songs will require focus and concentration, but not nearly the devotion that those albums required. I'm not suggesting that any ADD folks with the attention span of a flea should jump in because the many layers still require multiple spins to fully develop. Take your time and test the waters, because Into the Absolute is a great addition to Owl's arsenal.

Written for The Metal Observer.