It seems a fitting nod to their moniker that OTOH’s first album is also their last, the beginning swallowing the end in a sense, to create the perfect ouroboros. Having formed 12 years ago in Trondheim, Norway, the black metal four piece have only ever released two demos and two EPs, choosing to channel their energy into performing live and creating a name for themselves performing alongside bands such as Bölzer and Mgła. A decade on from their self-titled first demo, the band are putting One Tail, One Head to rest with what is easily one of the most eagerly anticipated debuts in recent black metal history.
Let’s call a spade a spade here and begin by saying that the production quality of this album is absolute dogshit – to a layperson that means “atmospheric” – this lends a bestial quality to the record though and it’s actually refreshing to see that a more traditional approach has been opted for instead of full throttle brutality, which most bands fall victim to while trying to hark back to the glory days of the 90s. ‘Firebird’ and the title track are two songs that have been lifted from the band’s earlier demos and given a revamp – they have much more depth and sound infinitely more impressive on this release and it’s interesting to hear how the band reimagine their own songs after having 10 years to consider them.
There are 10 songs on this album, however, four of those are short, ambient interlude pieces and, considering this is supposed to be OTOH’s grand farewell, it will leave you feeling a little short changed. C’mon, guys, this is the last (and only!) album you’re ever going to make and you could only be bothered to write six songs for it?! Thankfully, the six that are on here are fully fledged sonic assaults, densely layered with primitive percussion, bone rattling riffs and a meaty bass line – the vocals are placed a little low in the mix in places, but Luctus finally finds his voice around the midway mark and possesses a maddening sense of bloodthirsty power within every howl and shriek. This would be an acceptable first effort if there were to be a follow-up and an opportunity for the band to improve, but as a swan song this is much more a fart into the wind than it is the death rattle that OTOH had intended.
(6/10 Angela Davey)