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Black stones in the fog - 75%

Zodijackyl, June 6th, 2012

Okketaehm produce a very rough style of black metal that, despite its outward roughness, shows a very high level of refinement. The atmosphere seems to be tuned finely, fitting the music and creating a vibe that creates the whole sound that the music needs to thrive. The riffing has a bit of a medieval flair to it, reminiscent of certain second wave black metal, especially early Satyricon. It is executed as well as many of those legendary bands.

The arrangement of the whole demo is an interesting choice - one track, just over 18 minutes, moving quite seemlessly between black metal and ambient, noisy interludes that keep the same atmosphere as the guitar-oriented parts. There are clearly quite a few sections, as it changes between styles several times, but it is all assembled into one very coherent and inseparable piece, and it feels like a very complete piece, flowing from start to finish. Part of the strength of the music is the cohesiveness which holds all of it together, something that seems difficult yet essential in this style. Simplicity is often key, but the nuances of putting the parts together into a whole embodies the art.

The piece opens with a majestic melody, comparable to a medieval trumpet anthem, the guitars offering the shrill feeling of a chorus of high pitched trumpets, and the triumphant tune and timing complete it. The huge, medieval sound lasts through the first riff, reminiscent of Satyricon's "Dark Medieval Times" - the atmosphere and the riffing remind me of this throughout. Soon, the piece moves into an ambient section, and there will be several more interludes. They carry some melody and feel very welcome in the lengthy arrangement.

The atmosphere completes the piece. Both the black metal/guitar parts and the ambient/noisy parts are unified by slightly foggy production - it obscures some of the minute details while emphasizing the shape of the whole. There is a mystical feel to it, a mix of Satyricon's DMT and Sacramentum's "Far Beyond the Sun". This lends itself nicely to emphasizing the neo-medieval vibe that is present from the start. While not being an "atmospheric black metal" band as that style is generally known, the atmosphere completes the composition and sound nicely. It takes away a bit of the unpleasant edge that often makes raw black metal nearly unlistenable and turns it into a very pleasant sound.

This is a really good demo and one of the few things of this quality to come from a US black metal band in recent years. The underproduction is beautifully done, the composition is strong, and it comes together nicely. Listen to this and keep an eye on the band in the future.