By Lord Randall
Proving themselves not only competent but comfortable in crafting longer songs with its debut, “Lone”, Portugal’s OAK returns with a single-track album, “Disintegrate”. CATHEDRAL wisely sidestepped the opportunity to do so when the disco doomlords “could’ve”, SLEEP blows minds and bong rips to this day courtesy of “Dopesmoker” (or “Jerusalem”, if you prefer), so it only remains to be heard if OAK “should’ve”.
The opening track (also the closing track) begins with the feel of a soundtrack to a nature documentary or possibly of a community living destitute, separated by class, by creed, or by its own decision. Nothing is secret or hidden here, the duo clearly wants us to enter the world of its making, and has the time in which to show us both the flame-lit halls and the hidden, dark corridors of said world. Guilherme Henriques has a voice drawn from the deep wells of classic doom/death, but manages to add his own tea leaves to the boiling water all the same.
An almost RADIOHEAD-like spaciousness arrives at various moments, but in this sense the space is closing in, and is claustrophobic [6:12-12:28], almost hunting us. Of note is recording bassist Lucas Ferrand, his loose and reverent tone discernable here and there during this section, at the end joining drummer Pedro Soares and Henriques in a conflagration of dejection, the lyric “Like a river, aged by cold waters, I’m drying out throughout existence.” scorching.
Still, if the movement before was a fire, 18:55-20:20 is the fire turned inferno, devouring itself and all before it into ash and waste, a void from whence no phoenix rises. Soon enough after, we arrive at the final third of the album, an almost vital moment to catch one more diseased breath, a respite before the rending finale.
So, we entered with a question, yet seem to leave with more when it comes to “Disintegrate”. Yes, OAK definitely “should’ve. Exactly what it is the duo has created, though, will only come through time spent listening and wandering in this expansive world. Most assuredly, “Disintegrate” isn’t for your entry level doom listener - or, for that matter, music fan – but if you’re either of those you probably never made it far enough to read this.