Band: Irkallian Oracle
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Label: Nuclear War Now Productions
Irkallian Oracle comes as another band that I had originally covered during Fetid Dead’s first iteration, with their debut black/death onslaught Grave Ekstasis receiving high praise from me – and many other fans of the genre – as one of the best records of 2013 and one of the better black/death records released recently. So high hopes were in order when the mysterious Swedish outfit let loose last year that new material was on its way and now, Apollyon, the band’s sophomore effort has been dropped, but does it hold up to the debut?
For the most part, Apollyon delivers the goods; right from the first track’s, Reflections, opening swirling riffs, Apollyon conjures an eons old chaos through its murky musical exploration. Apollyon features a slight stylistic change to the debut, opting for a more uniform, trudging pace with the guitars and bass more often than not coalescing into an aural assault wall of sound with distinct, pummelling drums weaving a constant driving pace. This means that while Apollyon lacks the more off-kilter guitar work on Grave Ekstasis, it takes on a much more throbbing and ebbing suffocation.
Conjuring the Expulsed explodes with an extremely confronting, savage guitar tone and riff that spews forth from the track as if some ancient horror, while the mainstay of the track and Sol, feature a much heavier sound to the opening track. Sol also features an unintelligible spoken word section layered underneath it’s deliberate paced mid-section. The intro into Elemental Crucifixion is easily the most distinct part; a gasping and wretching man that amps up the unearthly atmospheres of the track. Apollyonic Enstasis delivers a more deliberate and off kilter riff throughout its murky assault, similar to something off of Grave Ekstasis but slowed and buried in more filth – the drums and vocals are definitely much more overpowering elements in this track compared to others. This is especially so near the end of the track, where the drums take over with a simple but savage beat. At the Graveyard of Gods also features drumming that overpowers a lot of the elements of the track, again creating a savage atmosphere that becomes unrelenting across the 11 minutes of actual track, although it tempers during the more deliberate paced sections only to rise back up and crush again.
My biggest issue with the album lies in its final track with its ending moments; an 8 minute drone rumble that closes the album off. While I see where the band was going with this from an atmospheric point of view, it honestly comes off as wasted potential and extra padding given the album’s already almost 50 minute run-time excluding that section. Had the band cut it down by 5-6 minutes and used it to blast into a crescendo a la Dead Congregation’s Teeth into Red, it would have been a killer ending to a great album, but as it stands now it’s akin to the silence before a hidden track with none of the pay-off.
In saying that, Appollyon is definitely a great sophomore release from Irkallian Oracle, and while the suffocation over off-kilter riffs causes a difference between this and the debut, Irkallian Oracle have definitely delivered a unrelenting, pounding and swirling sinister album that is highly recommended.
Favourite track: Elemental Crucifixion
Check ’em out here: http://nuclearwarnowproductions.bandcamp.com/album/apollyon