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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review: Vokodlok – Oracle’s Fury

Label: Self released

Date: May 13th, 2020

Believe it or not, Romanians Vokodlok were among the first black metal bands I’ve ever heard. Their debut demo “Unchain the Wolf”, from 2000, was one of the first CDs in my collection. So, you can imagine the nostalgia I’m fighting whilst dissecting their new EP.

A lot has changed within Vokodlok in the meantime. “Oracle’s Fury” comes after a whole decade of hiatus. Their debut full length album was released even further in the past, back in 2003. It was their last release before the one I’m reviewing here. Meanwhile, Vokodlok has become a duo instead of a quartet, with just one of the original members remaining in the line-up. The band even took a new logo for the era, which does bear some resemblance to the old one.

But where has the music gone while the band undertook such massive changes? Simply put, not too far. I remember Vokodlok as quite a raw black metal band. Such basics are still present, as the Scandinavian second wave prevails on the list of influences. Chilling riffs and fast drumming still carry most of the weight. However, both guitars and drums are performed on a much higher scale this time around. And much closer to what was displayed on the full length, than on the mentioned demo. Presence of a lead guitar helps “Oracle’s Fury” reach another level of creativity. Melodies are omnipresent, and even an occasional solo comes in. Rhythmical placement of the EP is upped a scale, too. Drums offer a bigger versatility than I remember Vokodlok was showing 17 years ago. Bass guitar was present in the mix even in the olden days, and now it also gained perspective. Vocals are the biggest surprise. While the majority is about the classical black metal screams, there are moments when the low-key shouts take over. “Alive” is the prime example of such an occurrence. The same song also offers a sort of a combination of the two, which fits perfectly to the themes covered on the EP. Those are mostly of ancient Greek origin. Having that in mind, you can also spot a couple of clearly Greek black metal touches on the record. Mostly within the later era Rotting Christ.

Looking at the overall result, the Romanians really did lift their music up a notch. Still, looking at a bigger picture and putting my nostalgic feelings aside, there is nothing outstanding on “Oracle’s Fury”. It is very much a decent recording and you cannot find many faults within. Yet, you also cannot find any of the more memorable moments which will make the record stick out of the bunch. Also, I’m not such a big fan of the cover artwork. It seems too modern to me. It would probably fit better on one of those brutal and technical death metal releases. The whole image seems way too sharp for a release that takes most of its appeal from the 90’s Scandinavia.

With all that being said, one can look at “Oracle’s Fury” as a fresh start for Vokodlok. Maybe even a first step towards reinventing their own sound. Looking at the EP from that perspective I’m able to place higher value to it. New full length album was announced for the next year, so let’s wait and hear what they have to play.