Okus have rapidly appeared from seemingly thin air to deliver this record.
It’s always nice when the Irish underground, small as it is, can deliver a sleeper album that catches you off-guard.
Based out of the depths of Drogheda, they feature members of well-regarded Irish underground groups both new and old (The Dagda and Sodb for two). They’ve got a pedigree that deserves some attention.
Coming via the ever reliable Underground Movement, we’re treated to relatively simplistic and bleak artwork. Dark and stark. This at least reflects the Crust aesthetics of the band – and the basis on which their sound is also built.
The group have succeeded in mixing up a particularly nasty melange of nasty, heavy and fast guitar music – without falling into any limiting pigeonholes. Hardcore and crust are at the heart of what they do, but metal, industrial and a dash of grind are in there two.
It’s the important tweaks that help them stand out. The dreary, miserable sounding chords that ring out over the piston-like pounding of opener ‘Blood and Oil’ is a good hint of this.
They’ve got genuine dynamics in their back pockets.
There’s audible vitriol in the record that speaks of a seething anger, despite, or maybe because of, the genuine veterans involved. They’re not afraid to play fast and let it rip.
The guitar tone is the ace up the sleeve – sounding straight out of Sweden for the most part. ‘Wolverine Blues’ era Entombed isn’t a million miles from this, with an emphasis on pounding, repeating bouts of buzzing violence. Snappy drumming and wide-eyed howls all add to this. It’s an impressive wall of sound and finely mixed.
There’s a discordance in there too that keeps things on edge. The furious vocals, which helped dropkick The Dagda’s ‘An Endless Betrayal’ into genuinely awesome territory are back here with aplomb. Yet rather than opening up that sort of epic scope, here they’re tighter, more concentrated – adding to the heave of forward motion.
Certain hooks and sections are revisited and battered into submission, pointing to a group who know what they’re doing. The cut and thrust of ‘Redemption’ is a good example of how to work to your strengths – something the new band already seem to have a good grasp of.
They’re not afraid to stretch the riffs out over a rack either. ‘Born in Chains’ works around a slow, grinding motif to deliver a slab of noise. There’s a clear sense of weight and pressure that grows to a strangling climax.
Widening the scope – can it hold its own against the current glut of fine, nasty hardcore that’s currently abounding in the wider world?
Genuinely, it can. There’s a strength and confidence the group display that’s audible here. True, some tracks sound like they may be old ones that they’ve been working over for a long time and could be slightly stale, but the seeds are there for an even more violent flourishing.
It’s an impressive first taste from the group. As with all good stuff of this type, they sound like they could be utterly lethal live. If they can channel the same focus and hate on display here, it could well be wind tunnel intensity.
Well worth a punt and a fine start – Okus are already carving out a space for themselves.
3.5 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 28/06/13