Little of it seems to reach our Western senses, but there really is a veritable hotbed of doom and drone down in the remote and impossibly vast country of Russia. Maybe it’s the humidity of the cities or the often subarctic climate that has inspired bands like Scald, Crepuscularia, Mental Home, The Morningside, Wine From Tears, Abyssphere, Burial Shades, etc. (the list is seemingly endless), but the numbers seem to be growing by the day. Together, they form an unbroken front of mood-makers that all take refuge in creating their own dark, sweeping soundscapes. Joining their countrymen now is Rostov-On-Don’s Osoka. They have set out to feed their populace on aching, sub-sonic, sludgy doom drone and complement it with strong, ritualistic chanting.
For this second album of Osoka’s, the band find a powerfully-resonant tone to their liking and absolutely refuse to budge throughout. There are moments in the duo of opening two-key droners where the silky-smooth vocalisations become almost viscous, sticking around long after they’ve finished. Essentially, the vocals are employed as an extra instrument, so there is a tendency for this to feel all too much like an album without a voice. However, that fact doesn’t reduce the bearing that the messianic chanting carries. There truly is a sense of it melting the music it touches. Either that or it harnesses the power to melt grey matter. Osoka resist the urge to throw in any harsh tones here – that comes later. These early moments are all about becoming one with the music.
Moving forward, there is the subtle kink of “Отец” or, in English, “Father”. This one provides sustenance with a numbing series of chugs that phase together to create a warm, buzzing sensation. Then, perfectly-titled, “Освобождение” (“Release”) is all about catch-and-release guitar strikes – from palm-muted crunch to resonant, open vibration and back into hold. The listener becomes the yo-yo at the end of the string. Senses are toyed with and discarded. Then, lurking at the end is “Река” (“River”). Once the full force of it hits you, trust me, you’ll stay down. A proper whitewater ride, it carries the determined force and labyrinthine qualities of Isis and the heaviosity and dynamic range of Khanate. At the five-minute mark it becomes irresistibly metallic and impossibly oppressive.
What you’ll find with Osoka is that if you don’t give everything over to absorbing the music, it will test your patience and perseverance to the full. However, let this beast burst your dams and it may just be the one to crack your internal depth gauge. Catch-22. For those with a strong constitution for conformist trance-inducing drone, perhaps those that survived last month’s occult Dark Buddha Rising release, there is still plenty to admire in this single-minded atmospheric, unsurprisingly minimalist music. Nurse, it’s time for my vodka. на здоровье!
(6.5/10 John Skibeat)