Quick and Dirty: Ogen – Black Metal Unbound
Release: EP, 2011 (Kolony Records)
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
Sonic Brethren: Istapp, Enslaved, Emperor
Released exactly one year ago, Black Metal Unbound was one of my favorite releases of 2011. The one-man band came out of nowhere (well, Italy) and released this amazingly forward-thinking EP. Its title is a perfect description for the music; black metal not bound to any doctrine, dogma, or belief. There’s no raw-as-a-volcanic-desert production, no excessive blast beats or simplistic augmented power chord riffs. It’s melodic, interesting, and well-written black metal with a blood-drop of progression. Guitarist and vocalist Hartagga knows exactly what he wants to make, and he does it without compromise.
I’ve found the most successful black metal bands tend to do things at one of two speeds. Blistering, neck-breaking onslaughts or crushingly slow torments. Anything in the middle ground seems to fall into mediocrity and can lose its appeal. Black Metal Unbound does mid-tempo right; it never lingers too long on a riff and rarely repeats itself. It’s the kind of deep, intricate black metal that only gets better with dozens of listens and still begs for more time. And a year later, I’m still listening.
Final Thoughts: Lays waste to the stereotype that only Scandinavia and Cascadia can produce beautiful, nature-inspired black metal. This first release by Ogen shows they will soon be a force to be reckoned with.