Review Summary: on the verge, but not quite enough to send Ostrov over the edge
It’s certainly a blessing that Ostrov have resumed their brand of sludgy, punk-tinged metal into twenty-twelve, as it is definitely a style that could use a few acts pushing boundaries this year. A continuation and elongation of their 2011 demo, Ostrov grant listeners Noumenal
, five more tracks of lumbering, ear-eroding, feedback-infused heaviness. Accompanying these riffs are hollow, droning wails and screams that layer the record in just the right places, making the record a well-executed stepping-stone that hopefully leads to bigger, better, and more creative directions.
Riddled throughout Noumenal are qualities that might be hidden on first listen, but shouldn’t be taken for granted. Ostrov knows exactly when to move and when to stand still; take, for instance, the dynamism of the last minutes of “People We Choose To Be.” The shift between mammoth-like chords and punk vitality is one that Ostrov handle with ease. “Naked Singularity” couples the sludgy aesthetic with a punk take on the sound, sped up with more coherent vocals. Think: His Hero Is Gone with less spastic songwriting. In fact, the entirety could have benefited from the energy and vitality of the aforementioned track. A lack thereof isn’t a glaring fault on the record, but there is some moments of noticeable drag throughout. As good as Noumenal
may be, I can’t imagine it implementing much of a dent in my future listening; it’s well-executed but the EP is missing some vital creative juices that would surely separate it from contemporaries and influences alike.
An aspect that does
set the Mississippi-based Ostrov apart from others recently that have gone for a similar style is that it doesn’t feel particularly exotic or otherworldly, like the French Karcavul or Polish black metal Mgla. Instead of reveling in distance or weirdness in respect to the listener, Noumenal
is a work that hits hard from a closer perspective (to mine, and most likely yours, at least). It reveals a contempt and disturbance in the everyday and minute, rather than a faraway threat, per se.
Wandering back to the more concrete details of the album-- instrumentally, it’s the drums on Noumenal
that help Ostrov to reach their most visceral moments-- epitomized by the closure of “Frame-Dragging,” where the wailing seems to only barely keep pace with the racing percussion. Similarly, I find it interesting that Noumenal
begins with much more cacophony and obstructive noise than the rather calm ending of closer, “Australopithecus.” It’s fitting that they let the dust settle here, as it also signifies the EP as a much more complete release than its predecessor. While it’s certainly not a finished and refined product, it’s a clear sign of capability. This much is evident though from Noumenal-- evidenced by their sheer intensity and exuberance, they’re is capable of a superb release that surpasses predecessors and peers. Let’s hope we see it sooner, rather than later.