Thursday, December 17, 2015

Oshiego - Crossing the Bridge of Siraat

Oshiego is a death metal band which has a distinct flair and is strong in structured songwriting. Riffs are driven by sharp, slightly "exotic" melodies - but rarely harmonies - paired with percussive death/thrash riffs. The style feels somewhat familiar, though unique enough to make it hard to draw direct parallels. Akin to the newer takes on old school death metal from the late 90s/early 00s, this is a good take on it.

Oshiego is old-school in style - the songs are based around ideas of on guitar, then mirrored in instrumentation on bass and drums. Rather than a modern approach, where the heaviness of production provides a wrenching and thrashing percussiveness and is repeated, the concepts originate from melodies on guitar.

The Oshiego trademark is to phrase an exotic melody as a guitar riff, then initiate a call-and-response push/pull with percussive guitar riffs. The melodies and the moods they inflect are unique to this band, but are reminiscent of Atheist's more melodic bits, or perhaps the better-phrased moments of Death. These are paired appropriately with thrashier death metal riffs akin to Master or Carnal Forge. The exotic tonality is easy to equate to Nile, but Oshiego doesn't have the long-winded or aggressively overdone attributes of Nile. Perhaps that is for the better, as the drum machine is met well by the extremely tight guitar and bass playing.

The songwriting provides a necessary dynamic to the single-songwriter/single-player sound. The rhythms here are very tight, and it is apparent that there is one man playing the quad-tracked guitars and bass along to a well-programmed drum track. The contrast to this is that, unlike most bands of the style who repeat 2-3 part song structures (i.e. ABAB-AB or ABC-ABC) Oshiego nest contrasting two-part sections inside of other parts. Rather than simple verse-chorus structures expanding upon that with pre-choruses, transitions, and reprises, the songs aren't chorus-oriented. There are definite structures here, but each of the 2-3 primary parts are structured with those push/pull, call-and-response riffs which emphasize melody and rhythm. This is what separates the band from many of the otherwise comparable late 90s/early 00s not-quite-oldschool death metal bands like Repugnant and Krisiun.

This is a standout album because it is distinct, built outward from the melodies and guitar riffs. While it doesn't match up to the greatest death metal albums, it is a contrast to a trend in death metal of emulating aesthetics and riffing style with no greater purpose. Perhaps it is for the best that it is not overbearing in tone nor atmosphere, because this reflects best on the themes of the music itself rather than simply aiming to strike once. Crossing the Bridge of Siraat is a journey worth taking.

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