Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden no longer means that a band is going to play the classic “Gothenburg” sound. Irkallian Oracle certainly do not. Their brand of dim, gloomy blackened death metal is miles from the melodic death metal sound that made the town so famous. On their second full length Apollyon, the band returns to it’s disgusting roots to belch forth a work of hellish fury and tortured doom. The album is a study in soul oppression and miserable black metal fury sure to leave any listener depressed, disgusted and thoroughly pleased. It’s more akin to Portal or Vassafor than anything you would expect out of Sweden.
Back in 2013 Irkallian Oracle quietly joined the metal scene with their full-length debut Grave Ekstasis. That album, in contrast to Apollyon, merely hints at the journey to the underworld that the band hopes to draw the listener into. Grave Ekstasis, despite its praise and excitement, never fully crested the hill and achieved the tension release that the band envisioned. So with a full three years off the Irkallian Oracle was able to craft a six-track release that drew the listener further into the depths of hellish despair in which the band was writing.
The collective of versatile musicians now knows how to create a mood, blow it up and use tension release to push that mood to its eventual explosive conclusion. They understand atmosphere evidenced by a nineteen minute closing track that is heavily synthetic. Additionally, on “Elemental Crucifixion” the track opens slowly and chugs along like a steam engine before the instrumentation drops out and tortured voices arise in a chorus. The anger, longing and despair at their situation is transparent. The instrumentation then returns to pummel the listener into submission and acceptance. Irkalia, in mythology, is the darkest regions of the netherworld from which there is no return. On Apollyon the band certainly puts that idea into musical affectation.
Above all, it’s the vocals that make Apollyon stand out. The drums are another highlight as they are recorded in a more “live” sounding fashion than the rest of the instrumentation. The drums are huge, echoing and full of aggression. The vocals, swirling, layered and tortured, are what truly draws the listener in. The guitars, not for lack of talent or effort but rather by design, ride low in the mix paddling the death ship across the River Styx with murky, slime-covered lines akin to Impetuous Ritual or Abyssal.
Certainly, Irkallian Oracle are not looking to clean up anyone’s depressive episode or lift their spirits. The music they produce weighs on the listeners soul like a Danforth anchor. Their nearly apocalyptic sound is only enhanced by the murky production and swampy mix flies in the face of Gothenburgheroes like Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates. Irkallian Oracle is out to destroy, depress and obliterate. They are not here to be your friends. So break out a hefty does of anti-depressants and spin this one with the lights off.