This release is a solo affair, masterminded by just one talented individual and backed up by some guests.
Oneironaut is black metal with an epic, mystical, even cosmic, feel to it. The songs are on the lengthy end of the spectrum on average, (which for this kind of music is always something I like), culminating in the final track, (and title track), that lasts a whopping 20 minutes. The entire album is an hour in length.
The music reeks of the occult and the black metal is enhanced in numerous ways to give added layers of depth and longevity. Blackened melodies, twisting leads and rhythmic distortion are common and merge together with everything else on offer to create involving soundscapes.
Good use is made of additional and exotic instruments. According to the press blurb this includes “…the Esraj, Frame Drums, Tanpura, Cretan Lyra, fretless acoustic bass, and innovative uses of acoustic guitars among other stringed instruments and percussion”. It all adds depth and extra layers to the music. They’re not over-used in a gimmicky way, and these touches add a lot to the overall performance.
The songs are very well-written, with a good sense of pacing and flow. It’s obvious that the brain behind the band knows what he wants to achieve, and clearly has the knowledge and experience to execute this properly, having been doing this kind of thing for decades now.
Production-wise the sound of the album is pitched just right. It’s clear and strong enough to let the music seep out in a black corrupted mass, but dark and evil enough to not mar the music with sterility or over-production.
Vocally there’s a great mix of screams, cleans, chants, etc. These are frequently to be found layered together too, and you can’t fault the performance of any of it. The classic take on black metal screaming is a joy to hear and the cleans are otherworldly and add great value.
For black metal aficionados that favour a darkly atmospheric and textured approach to their music, this is unmissable. With strong songs that are written well and an overall performance-level that belies the underground nature of the release, Oneironaut is a top-quality album that deserves to be fully explored and plundered over time for all of the many treasures that it has.