Irkallian Oracle : Grave Ekstasis

.: The following originally appeared in anti-matter’s Temple de Muerte zine :.

2013 : Nuclear War Now! Productions
Format : LP/CD

I’m all about being completely immersed in a recording. To me those kinds of records are the ones that leave a lasting impression. When a band dedicates their entire craft to a specific purpose and uses it as a vehicle of expression for the dark power that drives the music a certain vibe is created and emanates from the record with each spin. Last year Irkallian Oracle released their debut, “Grave Ekstasis” on cassette. The release was manifested via tape format with a total of two hundred units in all. Unfortunately by the time the majority of the world received word of this stellar offering it was already out of print. Enter Nuclear War Now!, who is now responsible for handling the vinyl and CD releases for Grave Ekstasis.

Irkallian Oracle has offered five lengthy sacrifices totaling around forty-five minutes of music in all. I had mentioned before the appeal of foreign and/or ritualistic instruments to compliment the standard western sound of metal. Irkallian Oracle does this and does it well. This can be a treacherous path as it can easily come off as a gimmick to some. There are several sounds that were very distinct to me throughout the album, the two biggest ones that come to mind are the shamanistic drums that build and build until they reach an ecstatic and feverish climax during the opening track, “Ekstasis.” The other is of course the Tibetan singing bowl that also makes several appearances throughout, most notably in the closing track, “Absentia Animi.” I can say after several listens that these instruments are what make Irkallian Oracle what they are, a dedicated coven centered around exploration, forbidden gnosis and mastery of sonic rituals. Each of the five songs are mandatory listening. There’s no reason to skip around as the album is simply one long invocation to the nihility of oblivion. This reason is precisely why analog format is highly recommended for Grave Ekstasis. Just set it on the turntable and let it play through.

While I normally hate to compare one band’s sound to another for the sake of giving a general point of reference I’d have to say that the riffing is slightly reminiscent to Australia’s, Portal. It has that complex but droning and hypnotic tone to it. The drums, for the most part move at a slower and steady pace. There are a few sections with some faster drumming, most of which can be found on the song “Trans-abysmal Echoes,” the shortest but definitely one of the more traditional and heavier sounding offerings. The vocals are what you would probably expect, extreme and discombobulating. The rest of it is built largely around the atmosphere created by the various instruments that would generally be considered “alien” to metal music.

There is absolutely no information at all pertaining to the membership of the band other than that they reside in Gothenburg, Sweden and all of them have only appeared live with their faces veiled and their bodies covered. Again, the legions of critics and ingrates will come crawling forth to complain about “gimmicks” and being overly dramatic. Anybody with a functioning brain and a general idea of what Irkallian Oracle is can easily understand the necessity of anonymity here. Grave Ekstasis is a psychological experience. Names and faces are simply irrelevant. A focused spiritual exercise like Grave Ekstasis requires that many external distractions be removed from the “mind’s eye.” Anonymity provides a blank canvas in which the forces beyond can take hold of and utilize.

Know above all that Irkallian Oracle is a powerful force in music. Their art transcends simple guitar riffs and blast beats. It is more otherworldly and more dangerous.

“The Abyss speaks if you dare to listen. It howls when the Moon is drowned in Night. And a step from an unmarked grave is taken. And memory slips out of shape – out of sight.” – Absentia Animi

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