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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Oaks of Bethel - The Ghosts That We Are (2011)

Band: Oaks of Bethel
Country: Illinois
Style: Atmospheric Black Metal/Drone
Label: EEE Recordings

Here we have another project form the two productive men in Njiqahdda, and this is probably their most creative outlet besides their main project. I've read some things that some fans put more stock in this project than Njiqahdda. This new double release contains some of the project's most creative moments yet.
The sound of Oaks of Bethel is one that's hard to describe, as it's really something unique and is really only similar to what the duo do in Njiqahdda. Stylistically, elements of atmospheric black metal, drone, ambient music, and funeral doom are all sort of thrown together under some more raw production to create a dense sounding atmosphere that can sometimes overwhelms the metal aspects of the band. Now, I'll be honest and say that not every release I've listened to from this project has amazed me the way Njiqahdda has, as some seem just a bit too drawn out or don't really go anywhere for me, but others are really high quality stuff, one of my favorites being their "From Midnight Sun to Burning Wheel" album.
Where this album differs from it's predecessors is in that, maybe it's just that I've built up a tollerance to it but, this album feels a lot more complete and well rounded. Where some of the other releases have felt more like epic journeys more than songs, it could at times become a little monotonous, but this album never falls into that realm, some even having quite memorable riffs in them, hear Cyclic, or a catchy melody, hear Shed Tears For Thirsting Lakes, which is something the duo really haven't had on previous albums. Tracks are a little bit shorter, with only the final track, the epic fourty-six minute Anthelion, going over twenty minutes making, in my opinion, this album a bit more digestable and easier to wrap your head around. I also have to say that the three interludes on here really are well placed and used to full effect, as they do break up the lengthier tracks and give you a minute or two to catch your breath before the next track starts.
Overall, I think it's safe to say that this is the projects crowning achievement right now, as it contains some of their best material yet, while by no means being any more accessable. Unlike some of the more epic EPs and albums they've released before hand, the shorter tracks really make this a more graspable album, which works to its advantage, even though both records top two hours in total. Definitely take the time to check this album out, it's really freaking good.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: The Ghosts That We Are, Cyclic, Anthelion

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