Oblique Rain - October Dawn
Major Label Industries
Atmospheric Progressive Metal
9 songs (46:26)
Release year: 2009
Major Label Industries
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

With a name like that, it's hard not to immediately assume that Oblique Rain are Prog Metal, and the five-piece from Portugal, here on their second album, do indeed play Prog Metal, but of a peculiarly Gothic and gloom-drenched style. There's notable My Dying Bride and Katatonia influences there, although the band never really get down and Doomy, preferring to stick to the late Paradise Lost style of modern downtuned misery. And, give them their due, they do it damn well for a band that was only formed five years ago, honing their talent until their metier is sharp enough to cut into the wrists of any musically discerning yet stereotypically depressed teenager. Who needs razors when you have music? Yet, of course, it's rather unfair to the band to focus on the depressive aspects of their music when there's a lot to rejoice in. The musicianship is stellar, modern guitars thrash and churn with some great soloing, whilst Flávio Silva's clean vocals do a great job in pulling you from the mire. There are almost no growls whatsoever to be found here, headbanging sections of riffage generally doing a more than adequate job as replacements, yet it's the almost Dream Theater-esque instrumental sections on the likes of Soul Circles which really stop and make you reassess initial impressions of Oblique Rain as an average band.

They're not, far from it; the more you listen the more the subtleties emerge, and before you know it the likes of Absent Awry are as familiar as your favourite Katatonia album. Moments like the seven-minute Inanity are, overall, much more aggressive and Progressive than the Swedes generally manage to be, a touch of Opethian drama in the guitars giving the song that extra epic oomph before the glorious melodies bring you back down to earth. I've never been a huge Katatonia fan, admittedly, the gap between what is promised and what is delivered generally seeming too insurmountable to bother with the repeated listens apparently necessary to "get" it, but Oblique Rain do a far better job of mixing the depressive with the uplifting, and are interesting from the first listen! The moment when growls are finally used on Spiral Dreams feels like the release of a pent-up emotion that you never noticed before, and the moment only grows with intensity with repeated listens. Fine, so October Dawn isn't a perfect album, but it's one of the best releases of its nature this year, sure to appeal to disillusioned Katatonia fans along with the last Ghost Brigade, another superb release.

For a relatively unknown band to emerge with a great album is hardly new in the Metal world, but it's less often that this happens and people actually take notice, especially without the advertising weight of one of Metal's ruling zaibatsu-esque record labels behind it. I don't feel I'm doing Oblique Rain a disservice by predicting that, short of a massive grassroots campaign, they'll stay small and known only to a few connoisseurs that make sifting through the many underground gloombahs their personal hobby. Oblique Rain, alas, don't have a former bandmate who is now so famed that his word alone is enough to sell their album, but must follow the other 99% of Metal bands in simply being good enough for word-of-mouth recommendations. Admittedly, I received this as part of a promo pack so I can't take a stance as a fearless explorer of the underground here, but hopefully these words tumbling from my mouth are as good as any others; Oblique Rain are a great band. Go check them out.

Killing Songs :
Soul Circles, Absent Awry, Inanity, Spiral Dreams, Darker Woods
Goat quoted 85 / 100
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