Ouroboros - Emanations - (9/10)
Published on November 21, 2015
Genre:Technical Death / Symphonic Death
Matching the template of their stunning full-length debut, Glorification of a Myth, would have been a fine and just decision for Ouroboros. A relatively safe one, of course, but given the album’s finesse and delirious technicality, another helping would have been devoured just as wantonly as the serpent on its awkward front cover.
But instead of settling for the same old, same old, the Australian quartet went for broke, using the four years between records—in addition to a government-funded production granted them by The Australian Council—to make Emanations one hell of a massive sophomore outing. And again, to absolutely no one’s surprise, Ouroboros are stunning listeners into submission with riffs that shred, crunch, and simply lay waste to eardrums across the great down under and beyond. But they’ve also implemented a strong orchestral component this time around, one that plays true to the expression of going, or perhaps being, over the top.
Prior to naming themselves Ouroboros, this Sydney-based group went by Dred for nearly eight years, releasing a four-song EP that made its way onto Glorification. Even back in 2007, the band’s technical onslaught seemed fresh, hammering, and distinctly natural. This new orchestral direction raises a brow in contrast, for as majestic as the music often sounds, some of it does seem superfluous to the overall effect. But subjectivity reaches as far as one can grasp, and denying the performances of the FILMharmonic Orchestra of Prague, one of the most sought-after classical ensembles in Europe, would be utter folly. For when all has been heard, the level of musicianship found on Emanations is as categorically professional as modern music is capable of being; this is no exaggeration.
And so the music. “Scion” sets the scene, vividly, blowing back the curtains with an aggravated swell of bubbling bass lines, frenetic drumming, and strategically placed riffs and solos. When vocalist Evgeny Linnik enters the arena there’s a definitive Dallas-Karl flavor, and coupled with the band’s push into broader realms, Nile references are well-deserved. Other suitable reference points might include some heavier, symphonically charged acts like Septicflesh, Rotting Christ, and Ex Deo, but Ouroboros’ usage sounds much more restrained than those mentioned, and the result is a keen balance of beauty and technical savagery.
Rather, what drives this album, and its predecessor, is the band’s faultless musicianship. The guitars are deftly handled, precise and cutting and never lacking in force or ingenuity; fans of thrash or shredding should be just as pleased as those sated on denser, more brutal metal. Likewise, the rhythm section is appreciably felt, with Mike Conti’s warm, fulsome bass tone trailing the insane pathways of Chris Jones when it’s lending weight to the background. The drumming performance by David Horgan, and this is not to diminish the efforts of his bandmates, is often beyond calculation. It’s a show-stopping display, setting and tackling the pace with an apparent ease that’s only further enhanced by the dexterity and creativity shown in his decision-making.
Set against lyrics of a decidedly mythological bent, words and music unite for an empowering listen, conjuring explosive visions of end times, vast civilizations, and elements of both ancient and preternatural design. Ambition, immensity, complexity, traits so easily jumbled, but when left to capable hands and minds, look out. With that said, and in spite of how much this reviewer thinks of the debut, Emanations seemingly came out of nowhere, emerging from the abyss when least expected to remind the living that Ouroboros remain one of the foremost leaders in extreme metal. So again, look out, the skies are falling.