Oraculum – Always Higher Review

There has been a whole lot of death metal lately that sounds like it’s been recorded in a cave. Certainly, there have been a few winners playing this style, but it is not generally a trend of which I am terribly fond. Chile’s Oraculum, with its second EP, Always Higher, is another band playing over-reverbed death metal, but they manage to overcome the sub-optimal production via the tried and true formula of quality riffs and aggression.

Release date: September 22, 2017.
Label: Invictus Productions.
Oraculum’s general style is fairly straightforward old-school death metal, but each of the EP’s three proper tracks has a different vibe. “Lex Talionis” is all business right from the start—blasting, bashing and churning away for four-and-a-half minutes of relentless barbarity somewhere in the nexus between Master, early-Death, and Morbid Angel. “Semper Excelcius” is a little longer and more varied in pacing, beginning with some low-and-slow tremolo riffs, working its way into a mid-paced chug and, eventually after several changes of both theme and tempo, into a full bore climax with a frenetic Slayer-eque solo to cap things off.

Finally, “Sphinx” is the gem of this trio of tracks. Beneath its very thick death metal veneer, this nine-minute multi-faceted beast is a sort of progressive thrash-metal epic, with riffs that bring to mind the most brutal of Slayer’s work, prime-era Sepultura, and maybe even a little Metallica. As much as I’d like to credit Oraculum for the cut, though, I discovered only recently that it’s a cover, originally written and performed by Germany’s Poison, which is clearly a very different band compared to the American band of the same name. Well, one of the German Poisons, and presumably the better one. However, I can still give Oraculum credit for good taste in covers and a good interpretation of the original song.

To my ears, everything on Always Higher could be a little sharper and a little punchier. That is not to say that the EP’s gritty old-school vibe is without its own charms, but there are great performances across the board on this recording and it would be nice to hear them a little more clearly. Production quibbles aside, Always Higher features some damn good death metal. Here’s hoping we get some more from this band in the near future.

Posted by Jeremy Morse

Riffs or GTFO.

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