Release date: September 22nd 2018. Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD
LOW – Tracklisting
1.Phantom Limb 03:56
8.Cut & Run 03:22
13.Dear Leader 03:47
14.Rise of the Apprentice 05:44
16.Shadow of Substance 06:13
Chris Daniele, Hans Dalhaus, Eric Racicot
Progressive Sludge/Stoner Rockers OXEN return with their second album - LOW. The band released their superb debut album The Vanishing a few years ago and I rate it very highly. The band plays a similar style of music as Baroness and Mastodon but with more Stoner Rock/Metal sounds than those two great bands. LOW is a heavier affair than The Vanishing.
The music is highly melodic in places and follows the same structure of music as their debut album. OXEN have included sixteen songs on this album. LOW has a mixture of short and longer songs, so the album never outstays it's welcome.
Opening song - Phantom Limb - has a very post-metallic feel buried under the heavy sludge/stoner sounds with elements of Psychedelic Rock allowing the band time and space to create their epic sounds.
Second song - Shepherd - feels like it could have easily came from the same sessions used to record their debut album. As the song has almost the same sound and presence as the songs featured on The Vanishing. However the song becomes very different when the heavy psychedelic guitars appear. The guitars feel influenced by Mastodon at times and that's no bad thing in my book.
Third song - Strive - is one of the more exciting songs on the album as the song has a short running time and OXEN pack as many different Psych Sludge/Stoner Rock sounds they possibly can. The vocals are superbly handled by both parties and the music moves along at a very quick pace.
The album does have four songs (I, II, III and IIII) which are held throughout the album and they're all instrumental songs. Maybe the band could have left these songs off the album though it does show another side of the band, as they play a more ambient/post-rock sound. The other songs on the album follow the standard OXEN template of heavy Sludge/Stoner Metal riffs spliced with Psychedelic Rock and even some gloomier moments that I didn't expect to hear on the album.
Low, Shallow, Rustlung, Crush, Rise Of The Apprentice and Shadow Of Apprentice are the other standout songs on the album and where OXEN impress the most. The production on LOW is impressive and is very different to The Vanishing. As the sound has a more DIY feel and sounds more natural.
Overall, LOW is a superbly entertaining album and one that offers a few surprises along the way. I will admit I still prefer The Vanishing to LOW. However LOW is still a superb album in its own right and proves OXEN are on the right path in forging a long and bright future within the Sludge/Stoner Metal scene.
Excellent and Highly Recommended
Words by Steve Howe