For Metal fans familiar with Black Metal of the more melodic or atmospheric persuasion, ORAKLE is a band that will feel very comfortable. They don’t exactly reinvent the wheel with their sophomore LP, "Tourments & Perdition"; in fact, they don’t even try to. Never is that fact a problem; this is a good album by a band that has been in the Metal scene for quite a long time. ORAKLE formed in 1994, and "Tourments & Perdition" is only their second LP since that time. Their craft is obviously a delicate one, and the time spent perfecting it shows.
The songs on this album are all quite long, all of which surpass six minutes in length, but they generally don’t feel stale or drawn-out because of the level of variety within each tune. Most of these songs alternate between a variety of tones and ambiences. "Vengeance Esthétique", for example, switches from being a punishing Black Metal assault to a melancholic cavern of haunting atmosphere. The change of pace does not feel contrived or awkward, and not even a hint of noticeable strain is present. With only a few exceptions, none of these songs really dwell on one single musical idea for very long. ORAKLE also has a great sense of melody. Distressingly atmospheric melodies and bombastic, blasting Metal are intertwined beautifully several times throughout the album. The melodic moments are also given full opportunity to take centre stage during the more sombre moments.
A fairly large symphonic influence makes its presence felt during the album. The symphonic keyboards that are so frequent among modern gothic Black Metal bands are used in abundance here. They do, however, reside in the background throughout most of the album, and they don’t create much of an effect. They don’t really add to the atmosphere–most of the time, they’re just there. Gothic-tinged, operatic singing rears its pompous head more than a few times during the album`s runtime, and these vocals often feel out of place. Because of their ``over-the-top`` nature, they don`t really mesh well with the more musically reserved moments with which they are typically paired. The ``Black Metal vocal`` emits plenty of discernable emotions. It doesn’t sound raw; it is accessible, but not overly polished.
Ultimately, `Tourments & Perdition`` is an album that I would recommend to fans of melodic, symphonic or gothic Black Metal. It isn`t perfect, but it certainly is good.
(Online August 27, 2008)