Monday, October 24, 2011

Record Reviews: THE SOUTHERN ORACLE - "Hellwakening" (Let It Burn Records)

The Southern Oracle is a band which juggles brutal metalcore and deathcore with such precision and technicality, that will surely delight the needs of most modern metal (and some hardcore) fans.

Hellwakening is indeed a hell of an album. It's filled with heavy metallic riffs and stompy beatdowns that succeed one in other in a very relentless and warlike manner. There is enough speed, heaviness and ferocity spat out, which will have you going for the "repeat" many times over as a result. Maybe at first, this album is a bit of a handful and sounds a bit long for the inexperienced listener, because of all the complex riffs and constant changes in the songs (and the slight lack of catchiness). However, there is no letting up by these Hungarians; just merciless metalcore pounding! What this actually means is that you have to work on the record by giving it your time and attention. In other words, it's a solid, mature, real metal record.

A thing you shouldn't be looking for in this record is clean vocals. These Hungarian dudes keep it heavy all the way through and resist going out like the majority of metalcore bands, which can't resist the pop element (i.e. The Devil Wears Prada, We Came As Romans etc). Therefore albeit having their melodic riffs, this album often departs from metalcore territory and kind of dwelves more into technical deathcore stuff. In a way, it transcends both these genres. Some of the riffs are melodic and technical, while others are more proper death metal oriented. There is something for everyone (except the emo kid).

This album also has a nice production that takes it away from the usual beatdown and metalcore stuff, and roots it firmly in a more metallic tradition. Therfore, fans of The Haunted and Heaven Shall Burn will definitely enjoy this more than fans of whatever modern metalcore is the flavor of the day out there. Nevertheless, there is enough beatdown to keep all the beatdown junkies satisfied, for sure. Add some nice layers of horror atmosphere, guest vocals by Darkest Hour and Bridge To Solace members, great looking artwork by Dyer Baizley (or someone else?), and you get a very enticing package indeed.
UPs: Awesome production, very high technical skills, good exchange of dual vocals (high and low pitched), decent amount of brutality.
DOWNs: Not enough innovation going on here, not very catchy or memorable enough songs.
LOWDOWN: Technical but mature metalcore/deathcore for the metal fan.

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