California elementalists Owl make a bold return with their third album, Geomancy.
Owl coalesced into being around Oakland, California in the year 2007. Their music is immediately recognizable for its inventive connectiveness. You could call it prog metal, or you might place it in the stoner and heavy psych pods. Whatever the category, it is the engagement that will get you. Their first album came out in 2012, Owl, followed two years later by Screech. Since then, things have been relatively quiet on the recording front until now. The band is Axell Baechle (guitar, vocals, piano), Alexander Baechle (guitar, vocals), Clint Baechle (drums), and Jamie Sanitate (bass).
The album begins with the chaotic “Awaken The Mountain.” It is difficult to know which end is up on this song. In that way, there is a kind of Mothers of Invention calamity going on where the listener rides along the edge of a starburst, catching different elements as they sail by. “Runes” is more straight forward. There is a nice arcane sense to the riffs, and the heavy presence of the bass is a reassuring delight. The vocals are soulful here, luxurious. It is metalled-up rock with a theatrical twist. “Pyramid Builder” quiets things down, shifting into a rural tempo with a little folk witching to stitch it all together. The prog appears clearly first with “Minion Of The Amethyst Cave,” to my ears. If that is what you were waiting for, here it is. It was my favorite track to this point in the album, with its solid and earnest construction. I listened on.
Geomancy is odder than I expected it to be. While I generally do not like surprises, I was pleased to find it this way. There are so many paths to walk along here that you cannot get bored. I am a huge fan of long form structures like the ten-minute “A King For Every Mountain,” and its even longer kin, “Shadow Of Ehe Catl.” There is so much to experience in these dedicated pieces that you cannot get it all in one listening. The top prize, though, goes to “Jupiterean Ocean,” which is an intoxicating elixir from its first notes. The instrumentation is precise and crisp and, with no narrative distraction, the music goes straight to your brain. Whatever you might know about Owl, everything or nothing, the new album will shake you up. Recommended.
Geomancy is out on Friday, February 17th through Lummox Records. It can be had at the links below.
Owl website, http://www.owlbrotherhood.net/
Lummox Records, https://lummoxrecords.bandcamp.com/
© Wayne Edwards