Truthfully speaking, I haven’t been the world’s biggest black metal fan since the shenanigans of the Norwegian scene in the ’90s. However, over the past couple of years, there have been more and more bands taking the hateful blueprint of the genre, twisting it up and spewing out albums that have piqued my interest. One of this new wave of bands is post-black metal troop OAR who may come from the sunshine state of Sydney, Australia but, trust me when I say there is nothing sun-kissed about the cold heart that pumps life through their The Blood You Crave debut.
This album kicks off in suitably dramatic fashion with the sprawling, eleven-minute title track. A relentless onslaught of harsh black metal that will be familiar to devotees of the genre, this feral delivery is interspersed with the kind of post-rock, atmospheric passages that are so prevalent in many of today’s exponents of the black metal genre. Perfectly deployed throughout the breakneck fury, the haunting, pained emotion conjured up by the group during these passages simply takes OAR’s sound to another level.
It’s a formula they reference regularly throughout this six-track effort as the likes of “Doomed And Damned” take listeners down through more accessible post-rock-inspired soundscapes while still retaining the harsh, black metal vocals. It is this ability to switch around the tempo as demonstrated with the breathtaking finale to “Doomed And Damned” and the dramatic mix of raging black metal and raw, doomy, sludgy slabs of heaviness on “Souls Lost In The Frost,” which makes The Blood You Crave such a powerful listen. It is also a blueprint that makes OAR the kind of band that could really bring some attention to the post-black metal scene in 2022.
After starting off this album with the eleven-minute title track, OAR close things off in a similarly epic fashion. The droning, doomy “What Once Used To Bloom” is another track that weighs in at just over eleven minutes long and, as you listen to this shift in pace, OAR again takes you on a bleak, punishing journey through their dramatic world. Following this sense-punishing onslaught, the Australian band wrap things up with the gentle outro “Wrongful Death.”
As I said at the start, black metal hasn’t always been a genre I’ve followed but looking at all the greats of the genre, they all have that perfect mix of epic, dramatic atmospherics and heart-freezing rage. In 2022, bands like OAR are taking that approach then adding a new dimension to it. The frightening thing about OAR is that, for a debut album, The Blood You Crave, is the perfect introduction to a band that clearly has the quality to redefine the black metal blueprint forever.
The Blood You Crave Track Listing:
1. The Blood You Crave
2. Doomed and Damned
3. Perfect Agony
4. Souls Lost in the Frost
5. What Once Used to Bloom
6. Wrongful Death
Run Time: 43:39
Release Date: January 7, 2022
Record Label: Blighttown Records