Review: “Torch” by Otus

Drawing influence from bands like Isis, Cult Of Luna and Sunn O))), Italian Post-Metal infused Sludge stalwarts Otus have made a name for themselves over the better part of the last decade by creating music which bridges the gap between brutality and mysticism. “Torch” is their second album in that time, a concept piece focusing on “The Fourth Way” as introduced by philosopher and mystic Georges Gurdjieff. A system of elevation and development of man that differs from the other three ways identified by the mystic: Way of the Fakir, Way of the Monk and Way of the Yogi. These three paths are based respectively on a material, emotional and intellectual approach are transcended, balanced and regenerated in a fourth path, where it will be the Will to illuminate the right personal orbit. The “Torch” is therefore an allegory on illumination through a work on our darkest and deepest self, where its fire will constitute the alchemical catalyst capable of deconstructing, purifying and then coagulating our new synthesis.

As is often the case th e self description of Post-Metal infused Sludge is one that covers a multitude of sins and it’s one that doesn’t even begin to describe what Otus have created with “Torch“. Opening cut “In Tenebris” has drone qualities as an instrumental scene setter before the monolithic “Through The Flesh” brings the low and slow qualities of Doom Metal while being soaked in the black tar of Sludge. An epic of nearly 7 and a half minutes, it has a slow burn that then tempo shifts up into a more powerful register in the second half as vocalist Fabrizio Aromolo scalds the skin from the flesh of your ear drums with his unclean vocal strains. A gargantuan affair it also allows the band add some melody to the full ache with a finale that isn’t too far away from something you’d expect from Post-Hardcore. “The Vessel” then confirms the bands mastery of creating the darker atmospherics as they create a tension you could cut with a knife with the outpouring. Almost ethereal clean vocals soar above the unclean ones during the painfully slow opening four minute third of another monolithic cut, the building of a storm before one again the tempo shifts as a demonstration of pure power. The energy then dissipates and is replaced by ethnic instrumentation that builds the sense of the spiritual before the second wave of heavier resonance hits with low and slow power. It’s not just a song but an immersive experience that you get lost in the meditation of during those distinctive ethnic moments.

The drum sound from Leopoldo Russo Ceccotti is absolutely incredible on “Apena“, arguably the most accessible cut of this selection due to its shorter and more direct approach despite approaching six minutes. Again the band play with light and shade contrasts with the mid section offering brighter intricacies before the plunge back into the dark Sludge fueled riffs, this one having some almost tribal fills and a Groove like swagger. The long and drawn out “Ex Tenebris I” is perhaps worship music for those who love the dark arts, once again swaying between the dull ache of Doom and emotive intricate melodies which offer chinks of light that pierce through the dark clouds. Music to mourn to that has been enriched by adding synths, it has a power in the heavier sections that can not be denied and the mystical journey to reach those moments is a slow march to inevitable immolation. The finale “Ex Tenebris II” offers a continuation of the vibe, narrowly escaping the sense of claustrophobia with some more accessible Stoner Sludge riffs. Prepare to be hypnotized by this beat from the black depths [7/10]

Track Listing

  1. In Tenebris
  2. Through the Flesh
  3. The Vessel
  4. Apnea
  5. Ex Tenebris I
  6. Ex Tenebris II

Torch” by Otus is out 20th September 2022 via Time To Kill Records with pre-orders available over at bandcamp

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