Monday 2 October 2017

Rituals Of The Oak - Mark III (Album Review)

Release date: September 15th 2017. Label: DHU Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Mark III – Tracklisting

1.Abremalin Squares 05:50
2.We Remain 07:04
3.Game of Tears 04:09
4.Woman 04:07
5.I'm So Down 07:41
6.The Northern Wall 06:20
7.The Sorceress 06:15


Sabine Hamad - Vocals
Dale Harrison - Bass
Shane Linfoot - Guitars
Matt Shriffer - Drums


Aussie Doom Metal crew Rituals Of The Oak after a 5 year hiatus with their new album – Mark III. The album which is being released on Vinyl through DHU Records is quite a different sounding Doom Metal band. As most of the album is built around the highly emotional vocals of lead singer – Sabine, with the music being played at a delicate and deliberate slow pace.

Opening track – Abremalin Squares – does take time to fully get going as the traditional doom sounds are played very slow with elements of psychedelic/blues rock vibes allowing the band to experiment with their music. Rituals Of The Oak start playing faster and heavier progressive sounds near the end of the song. It's quite a captivating affair with the music slowly becoming the main focus as Sabine's vocals drift into the background.

Second track – We Remain – opens with a 70s Blues/Hard Rock style passage with the band soon start playing sinister doom and gloom riffs. The mood of the album changes to one of traditional doom metal with Sabine's vocals adding a more atmospheric folk environment. Rituals Of The Oak don't play by the usual rules of Doom Metal, as the album drifts from one different sound to the next. It maybe too adventurous for some but at least the band are willing to try something different to standout from the Doom Meal crowd.

Third track – Game Of Tears – sees Ritual Of The Oak opt for a funk driven sound. WHAT THE FUNK. Funk on a Doom Metal album. Well that was a real surprise for myself to hear. It's a groovy 70s classic sounding track that in reality should feel out of place on the album. Though, somehow the band make this work as you can hear traces of psychedelic doom rock on the later stages of the song.

Fourth track – Woman – carries on the 70s Funk/Disco/Blues Rock assault on the senses. This is way too trippy and surreal for a Doom Metal album. Though I can't deny that I'm bloody enjoying the hell out of this. The vocals from Sabine and the hard rocking riffs create a real doomy atmosphere when the heavy riffs finally appear.

The final 3 songs on the album – I'm So Down, The Northern Wall and The Sorceress – carry on the experimental Funk/Blues/Psych/Doom sound that Rituals Of The Oak play so expertly well. The overall mood and feel of the album is filled with so much musical creativity that you wouldn't expect to hear on a Doom Metal album.

Rituals Of The Oak are in a league of their own. As I cannot compare them to anyone else within the realm of Doom Metal. Mark III is an exquisite, bold, brave and hugely entertaining monster of an album, that will have you listening for days on end.

Superb. End Of.

Words by Steve Howe