Black metal destroyers Oculus inject darkness, torment across universe with ‘Apostate of Light’

I’ve got this awful sinus pressure thing going on right now where every time I swallow anything, it feels like shards of glass are ripping down my throat. My head is draining at an alarming clip, and my voice is beginning to take on an unflattering deepness. The only good part is the medicine that, after a while, makes it feel like I’m floating in an ashy cloud.

That’s also what it feels like if you take on “The Apostate of Light,” the debut record from black metal beasts Oculus, a band whose members are spread across the globe. Over the course of six monster tracks, the band drags you through the murk and into bizarre planes of existence, all the while paying devout spirituality to the darkness. It’s not like this is the first band in this sub-genre to espouse anti-Christian sentiments, but they do so in a way that’s so chilling and nightmarish, that their messages are that much more impactful. This band—Nero (guitars), Kozenljnik (vocals, guitars), and Ormenos (drums, bass, keys)—whose members hail from North America and Europe, formed their shadowy chaos together in the hopes of not only expressing their own enlightenment in the abyss, but also to envelop listeners with a strange, sometimes dissonant form of black metal that’s devastating and haunting.

“The Sour Waters of Life” begins with noises rising and creating a tornadic effect before the song tears open, and it obliterates over its 10:05. Black metal chaos is unleashed, while the crazed growls sound wrapped in layers of echo, giving it a deranged feel. Mournful melodies lather, while desperate howls reach out, a dark rain drops, and the song burns out in static. “Salt for the Healer” has burly riffs that flex muscles before the song heads down an eerie tunnel. The guitars begin to chew, while the vocals lay waste, and the song assaults until everything feels like it’s falling in on itself. Trancey playing causes you to question your mind, while the wail of, “There is no water to wash away the sin,” accompanies a grinding hole that’s being driven into the earth. That grimness remains and pounds right up to the end. “A Visage of Dark Remembrance” has guitars drizzling and throaty growls, while the humidity builds. “I destroy!” is howled over and over throughout the song, while the tempo makes it feel like a heavy fever is settling into your bones. Later on, the vocals have a terrifying narration feel to them, while guitars sting flesh as they close out this chapter.

“Axiom of the Plague” (NOTE: I feel like I’m living there right now) has drums rupturing and causing seismic chaos before gruff growls rush in and spit shrapnel. There is a thick film of weirdness, as the cry, “Blessed be the eyes of the serpent!” makes your ears ring. The band slips into tricky playing, while spiritual wails drive this thing into the void. The title track opens and churns, while strange growls slither and swallow scenery, as the threat, “I am the opposite of light, I am the one who hunts the world!” instills fear. The madness creates a blackhole-style vortex, practically causing vertigo to set in while the song rips into the cosmos. Closer “Storms of Havoc” unleashes terror right away, as nasty playing and furious growls unleash pain. The vocals hiss fire, while the tempo entangles and drives water and blood to the ground. The music begins to dissolve and move into a strange mist, while the noises bleed out and leave only bruising behind.

Oculus’ slithering, mysterious black metal sounds like it could have come from a far-off, cursed planet, or even from a particularly strange section of hell, and what you’ll hear on “The Apostate of Light” should frighten and enlighten equally. Their agenda is clear, and it’s not terribly different than many other bands of their ilk, but their presentation is so much more interesting. This band’s beginning may only be their roots, but they should continue to sicken as they move into well down their darkened path.

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