Omotai - A Ruined Oak,
Omotai was formed in Houston in 2010 by guitarist Sam Waters, drummer Anthony Vallejo, and bassist Melissa Lonchambon, and they recorded their debut release, ‘Peace Through Fear’, within two weeks of formation. This confrontational EP drew on both modern heavy underground rock, ranging from Keelhaul to High On Fire, and the early industrial sounds of Godflesh and Skullflower. Over the next four years, they completed two albums, during which they recruited guitarist Jamie Ross. Vallejo departed in 2014, and was replaced by journeyman punk drummer (and Waters’ previous collaborator) Daniel Mee, and after touring they threw themselves into the writing process for what would become their third album, ‘A Ruined Oak’.
This album is a concept, based on the story of the lost colony at Roanoke, and is centered on abandonment and responsibility, the lyrics haunted by loss and violence. That may be what the lyrics are about, but musically this is all over the place with influences being taken from thrash, doom, sludge, extreme metal, hardcore punk, and post-rock. It is incredibly heavy, violent, and powered through the bottom end. It has the energy and attack of hardcore, and a vocal style that certainly sits well within it, but they mix it with all the other influences so that one isn’t ever really sure quite what to expect. They are also fans of negating the use of harmony when they want to, with minor chords and dicshords being used to create a feeling of oppression and disquiet to quite unnerving effect.
Intense, and at times overpowering, this is an album that may not sit well with many, just because it can be so unsettling. I, however, think that this is an album that contains a great deal of substance and while it may not be something I will be play a great deal, I am certainly pleased to have come across it.