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Ovnev – Transpiration

Ovnev
Transpiration
by Ian Yeara at 28 September 2020, 10:01 PM

I usually tend to stay away from American metal bands, or at least the big names. However, there are some awesome niche bands nowadays that are completely changing the face of what kind of metal America produces.

Over the last 15 years or so a trend of combining American Folk music and Atmospheric Black Metal has emerged and I for one love it. PANOPTICON from Louisville, Kentucky is obviously the easiest example of this, even releasing a straight up Folk/Bluegrass style album. Of course there’s also bands like GALLOWBRAID and CALADAN BROOD from Salt Lake City Utah giving their own take on the SUMMONING style of Black Metal and others such as ABIGAIL WILLIAMS from Phoenix, Arizona and GHOST BATH from Minot, North Dakota. It’s actually rather impressive how well American bands have acquitted themselves in the Black Metal genre and dare I say I tend to enjoy a lot of these American Black Metal bands more than your average Black Metal band coming out of Europe right now.

OVNEV is from Spring, Texas and this is their third album. I’m rather surprised I haven’t heard of these guys before because I usually make it a point to try and keep up with newer Atmospheric Black Metal releases and their first two albums were in 2016 and 2017. Style wise this is closer to something SAOR would write, but a little less folk-oriented. The guitars are laying down a thick tapestry which spells out the melody which is almost entirely in a major key, which occasionally modulates to the relative minor for effect.

Looking at the lyrics and the material provided with the album, the theme of this album is how ecosystems work together to thrive and how we humans need to aid this process and help save the rainforests. It might sound generic, but it really resonates with me. I’m already an environmental guy as it is, but I was reading the note the band wrote explaining what the album is about on Bandcamp and I really appreciate the passion and fervor with which these guys write. That passion and emotion really shines through the music, with tasteful, emotive guitar solos and the overall tone of the music being hopeful and optimistic, something unusual for Black Metal, but not that uncommon in Atmospheric Black Metal.

Getting to the album itself I will admit the songs all kind of blend together, they’re all excellent and I love what they’re doing, but if you don’t love what one track is doing, you’re probably not going to like the rest of the album.

What sets this album apart from a lot of this kind of Black Metal is the rhythm section. I would say this album as a whole doesn’t linger on one groove or rhythmic pattern for more than three or four measures if that. The guitar riffs repeat plenty, but over an ever changing, shifting tapestry of drums and bass which creates a pretty cool effect. My favorite parts of the album however are the soft acoustic sections. Maddox has a wonderful grasp of folky acoustic guitar, creating an almost OPETH like atmosphere at times (specifically thinking of "Ridges of Dispersion").

I haven’t talked about the individual songs much because like I said they do kind of blend together, but this is a short album meant to be listened to all at once so it’s easier to analyze this album as an aggregate. There are two songs I’d like to talk about: "Transpiration" and "Oxygenation".

I like the title track a lot mostly because of the development section, it’s a little different from the other acoustic sections on this album, being entirely in a major key (actually I think it’s a mixolydian scale) which gives a great sense of peace and tranquility. I love what the drums are doing underneath as it helps keep the momentum alive and the layered guitars create a beautiful background for the guitar solo and then the transition back to Black Metal is really effective. "Transpiration" really has a lot of the irregular rhythmic patterns that I talked about and it makes the album that much more interesting.

"Oxygenation" is on the slow burn side of things. The first half is acoustic ballad-ish build up and just like on "Transpiration" the electric guitar is soloing over the acoustic which I really really enjoy here. Then right at 3:35 the song kicks into gear and it’s glorious. It’s more of the upbeat Black Metal thing the whole album has been doing. By the way I think what they use to get that sound is a dorian scale for anyone interested. "Oxygenation" thunders into the ending like goats being herded into the barn at the end of the day and the album fades out for the outro rather than switching back to acoustic.

OVNEV is making the definition of solid, above average atmospheric Black Metal. I feel like the instrumentation is a little too bland for this to be blowing any bigger names out of the water, but this would be a perfect opening act for a band like PANOPTICON, I know Austin Lunn is a big environmentalist as well. In fact, I’m sure PANOPTICON was a huge influence on the sound and style of OVNEV. Not the most memorable Black Metal album I’ve heard all year, but I really enjoyed it and I hope you do too.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Eons of Origin
2. Elemental Ascension
3. Transpiration
4. Ridges of Dispersion
5. Oxygenation
Lineup:
West Maddox – Guitars, bass, vocals, sampling
Brandon Zackey – Drums
Record Label: Naturmacht Productions
     


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