Album Review: Oro – Vid Vägs Ände

Album Review: Oro - Vid Vägs Ände
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Vid Vägs Ände (At the End of the Road, if Google Translate is to be believed) is Swedish Post Metallers ORO’s second record. Formed in 2014 and having released their debut, Djupets Kall, in 2019, the band have the (almost) unique selling point of singing entirely in their native tongue.

In all honesty, my total lack of knowledge of the Swedish language did not hamper my enjoyment of Vid Vägs Ände one iota as it unfolded over its surprisingly quick forty-one-minute run-time. From the opening seconds of a needle being placed onto worn vinyl of Arvet & Tystnaden to the choral and cosmic closing section of Treriksröset, this is an album filled with both huge and aggressive moments and languid, contemplative passages.

From the outset we’re dropped into a dark, menacing musical landscape, a bleak guitar tone is our guide, that unsettles and disconcerts in equal measure. Initially played at a near-glacial pace, Arvet & Tystnaden breaks its shackles and explodes is a barrage of huge riffs and soaring guitar. Like all the best post metal, ORO know the exact point to extend their ideas – anymore it would lose the accrued tension, any less and the impact would be lessened.

Album Review: Oro - Vid Vägs Ände

The title track takes those vast and uplifting sections and turns them into dense, nightmarish soundscapes. Guitars literally howl, evoking the image of a dark and primal forest, the drums taking that one step further by laying down an ancient, tribal beat.

The five tracks on Vid Vägs Ände form more of a series of movements rather than the traditional song structure of the usual records. Each is its own self-contained tune, but there are motifs running throughout the album that give it the sense of epic poetry, where ideas are heard in one place and explored elsewhere.

All manner of elements go into making the post metal sound and ORO incorporate big chunks of Sludge into their creative process, with the central Bältad opening with echoes that slowly build through the low rumble of the bass and the introduction of a primal vocal. Each track building to a series of crescendo after crescendo. Siare can be heard to feature some of post metal’s other, more surprising bedfellow, Hardcore as vocalist, one-time Terrorama man, Petter Nilsson channels his inner urban demon.

Musically, Vid Vägs Ände is entirely effective, with the low end creating a dark and brooding platform for the guitars to either ooze or soar as the situation requires. Production and mixing sounds spot on and when your record is mastered by the man who’s worked with Enslaved and Katatonia you know you’re in safe hands.

On of the more unfamiliar releases this year, but no less worthy of your attention than any of the big hitters who’ve come already in 2023. A great way to end the year and something you might want to ask Santa for.

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