Review Summary: Black metal for beginners.
In recent years, the black metal scene in the United States has been becoming more and more known for it's involvment in the development of the so-called "Cascadian" black metal movement. Bands such as Weakling and Wolves in the Throne Room were some of the first to really play in this style and more bands have been joining them in the past few years. In 2011 alone, bands like Ash Borer, Fell Voices, Deafheaven, and this band, Oskoreien have been adding on to what the aforementioned bands have started. Oskoreien is a one-man band and while he doesn't really add anything new to the Cascadian black metal formula, you'll still find that his debut self-titled full-length album is enjoyable in it's own right.
Right off the bat you can tell the type of sound that this album is going for, with an atmospheric intro that pays homage to the type of music that the Cascadian scene is. When one listens to this type of music, you'll realize that this isn't your typical church burning, Satan-worshipping black metal. You don't get images of corpse paint or murder or any of that type of stuff. It's very nature-oriented, meaning that you get the feeling of mountains, trees, lakes, and pretty much anything that has to do with nature. To give off that feeling, there are a few different things that you have to do, and Oskoreien does here. The riffs are tremolo picking for the most part. Not really overly melodic, but heavily atmospheric. Acoustic guitars also show up pretty frequently. The drumming isn't anything that will wow you because, once again, this album relies mainly on atmosphere to get it's point across. You have some blast beats here and there, as well as a lot of slower rhythmic stuff.
Vocally this album is extremely well done, but also something that isn't unique for this genre. There's a mixture of harsh and clean vocals, with the harsh vocals being the dominant one. His voice isn't more leaning towards high or low-pitched, it's pretty much smack dab in the middle of the two. There's some effects on them to make it sound almost like they're echoing. The clean vocals are pretty operatic and baritone, almost in the vein of the infamous Norwegian vocalist Garm. If you've ever heard Garm then you'll know that saying the vocals sound like anything similar to him is a huge compliment.
Overall, this isn't an album that is going to have you in awe because of how original or unique it is, because that's just not the case. The point is, it's extremely enjoyable and a great album for what it is. If you're only a fan of the more extreme side of black metal, then this won't be your thing. This type of music is for listeners that have an acquired taste in this sort of thing and also for listeners who would be interested in getting into the black metal genre. It's been said that Cascadian black metal is the easiest type of black metal to get into, so if that interests you, then it's definitely worth a shot.