Review Summary: An Evil Heat is a culmination of everything that makes Oxbow the most interesting band you haven’t heard.
Oxbow is easily one of the most underrated bands on all of sputnikmusic. It’s not quite that they have low ratings, because the few that know about them seem to like them, but none of their albums have more than 50 ratings. Enough of the talk with this site though, Oxbow needs a bit of an introduction. Bands like Oxbow come around every once in a while, but this quartet really is one of the most unique bands to come out over the past two decades. Starting out with the provocative ***fest
, Oxbow have been releasing experimental records for quite some time and have certainly earned their chops. With support from Neurot recordings and Hydra Head, they have managed to piece together some sort of minor success though. To actually describe their sound though, there will be quite some explaining to do.
Taking in influences from noise rock such as the Jesus Lizard, to classical, prog rock, drone music, blues, free jazz, and some psychedelic music, Oxbow’s sound is impossible to properly categorize beyond “experimental rock”. Vocalist Eugene Robinson employs shouted vocals which evoke images of a sorrowful, broken victim in pain. The guitar playing from Niko Wenner is very menacing and dissonant, full of feedback, distortion, sudden shifts, and slide playing. The rhythm section, comprised of Dan Adams on bass guitar and Greg Davis on drums, play very loosely similar to the Jesus Lizard once again, but with influences that go all over the place. After trying different sounds though, with their previous material, Oxbow have crafted what they always hinted towards with An Evil Heat
An Evil Heat
could best be described as the most frightening thing Oxbow have created so far. It seems to hold a concept of sorrow and desolation throughout, with Eugene’s wails being more frightening than ever. The way he shouts on songs such as “The Snake & the…” or “S Bar X” are so frightening, they make black metal bands seem childish. Most of the album will creepily plod along on one sort progression, but when they explode, instead of sounding big and triumphant, they just sound really horrifying in a way similar to Swans. Every song does its job perfectly by basically being a completely schizophrenic, frightening, and intense emotional experience. As a whole the album flows quite nicely, with highlights such as the opener “The Snake & the…” which allows you to see into the dark images Oxbow is painting. Other highlights include the crawling “Stallkicker”, the jazzy “Sawmill”, and the schizophrenic “Sorry”. As a whole though, all the songs form together to create something a bit different, like pieces to a complex puzzle.
An Evil Heat
is easily Oxbow’s masterpiece, culminating everything they did in the past in the best way possible. This album is undeniably inaccessible to most listeners, due to its immense power and experimental approach to nearly every musical convention. Experimental rock would be the only way to correctly describe this release due to its dissatisfaction with staying under one umbrella of musical styles. If you’re looking for one of the most bizarrely emotional experiences of the past few years, check this out, if you can take it.