Glens Falls New York Metalcore quintet Oakheart have been regulars in support slots for everyone and anyone passing through the neighborhood. It’s finally their time to lay down the gauntlet with their debut full length “Cold State”. It comes with a little help from their friends in Edorra, Immortalis & Beast in a trio of guest appearances that are the standard on a lot of current genre releases.
The album starts with “Prologue”, a 71 second distorted spoken word piece against an eerie and almost space age synth backdrop. Those synths then bleed into first track proper “Age of Desperation”. Eerie and menacing lead guitar flourishes slide over some crushing riffage while Nu-Metal inspired lyrics are flood out. There is an interesting melodic drop at the back end of the song before bringing it back to the heavy. “No Privilege” features guest vocals from Shauwn Williams of Edorra and his presence adds a punchy extra layer to the sound while seemingly inspiring the band to pile breakdowns upon breakdowns to build up the ferociousness of the music. Those eerie lead tones and buried electronics are still present but take more of a back seat for the most part. There is a vocal passage that has an underwater quality to it that adds a sprinkling of something else while not distracting from the overall vibe.
“Survivalist” starts off as faster tune that introduces some impressive kit work before slowing right down and almost reaching downtempo speeds. There are a few clean words in the vocal growling. “Displacement” offers something different just when the songs on “Cold State” are beginning to sound similar. The predictable menacing and eerie guitar work is replaced by some faster Melodic Metalcore inspired riffage that breaks up that monotonous vibe and lifts things up in a tasteful way. “Respite” takes us back to the distorted spoken word of “Prologue” but then bursts into a heavy chugging instrumental section that does what it says on the tin. “Lost Cause” features Dylan Greenhill of Immortalis and raises everything up a notch into Melodic Deathcore territory. Blast beats and some crushing riffs coupled with an impressive guest vocal make for one of the best cuts the album has of offer. Slowing things down for an epic downtempo lead section that crushes to close the track out is a real demonstration of what they are capable of.
Album title track “Cold State” features Derek Nugent of Beast which is something of a surprise in that for their full debut you’d think they might keep title track for themselves. Starting off with some orchestral work that builds into the first verse and some brutal breakdowns. The eerie guitar and synth parts are back again but the stronger guteral guest vocals seem to inspire a welcomed more anvil meets blunt force truma approach to proceedings that works really well. “Dead Weight” is a song title that has been used by many bands in recent years, most notibly by Heart of a Coward and Wage War. Oakheart use it to bring some improved guitar work that takes them to Void of Vision territory. The drum sound is much improved in the mix on this cut and it makes for a finer sound quality and weightier tune. “I’m Not Fine” is a song that has been around for over a year at this point so to have it close the album out is kind of fitting. It’s obvious at this point, if it wasn’t before that their is a signature to Oakheart’s sound on “Cold State” that makes everything sound quite similar and monotonous. If it’s intentionally done, then it doesn’t make much sense as to why as what you end up with is slab after slab of material. The density of the sound means that the nuances come out after multiple listens but the kicker is that a lot of those nuances are very similar. You end up with a situation where you hear one track and it’s great and then by the time you’ve heard the album it’s all a bit flat. It’s not that all the elements to make something really good aren’t here, because they are and the band clearly has a lot of talent. What is lacking is the hands and eyes of a decent producer with the confidence to push the band in the write direction and to step back and look at the overall picture [6/10]
1. Prologue 2. Age of Desperation 3. No Privilege (Ft. Shauwn Williams of Edorra) 4. Survivalist 5. Displacement 6. Respite 7. Lost Cause (Ft. Dylan Greenhill of Immortalis) 8. Cold State (Ft. Derek Nugent of Beast) 9. Dead Weight 10. I’m Not Fine
“Cold State” by Oakheart is available over at bandcamp.