Olkoth – At the Eye of Chaos (Everlasting Spew Records)Friday, 26th May 2023
Newcomers Olkoth have been teasing listeners for a while now with their brand of blackened death metal, starting with a well received demo back in 2019 that piqued more than a few ears. A single “Eidolon in the Flames” dropped in 2021, further whetting the appetite. Arriving at long last is the release of their debut album At the Eye of Chaos, and the inevitable query of ‘was the wait was worth it’ awaits an answer. Yup, this jerk is going to make you wait for it.
Alright, the delay won’t be long; patience indeed does pay dividends in this case study. Olkoth perpetuates a fierce helping of black/death metal, enhanced by the occasional thrashy energy and varying angles of attack. Album opener “Alhazred” blazes into life with a smattering of furious drums and suffocating guitar riffs that will be a repeating theme. Hefty growls and screams via a dual vocal presence of guitarist Zach Jeter and bassist Alex Rush are like that last satisfying fitting piece of the puzzle; slotting in to link the instrumentation together as well as adding differing flavors throughout.
The band’s black metal leanings make their presence known amongst stringent death metal structures on “Incendiary Power” and “To Eat of the Lotus,” while “The Resurrectionist” boasts slick leads and a cornucopia of tech death riff insanity without losing focus. Krzysztof Klingbein stepped in to record the drums for At the Eye of Chaos, and his versatility is evident on the aforementioned entries especially, showcasing a versatility to meet the wall of guitars and seamlessly enhance the album as a whole.
Direct untethered brutality is at the ethos of “Thousand Faced Moon,” and “Lords of the Kali Yuga” embraces a death/thrash aura with unrelenting, pacy galloping guitars via Jeter and partner in stringed larceny Hunter Ross. The personal standout is the diverse and previously mentioned single “Eidolon in the Flames,” of which features timely tempo changes, a dose of blackened aesthetic, and multiple rhythm guitar moments that stick in the psyche.
For those like yours truly who have been anticipating this first full-length with bated breath, Olkoth deliver an impactful chunk of blackened death metal that is tightly executed and a raging good time. We have speed, ferocity, and enough riffage that we defy your head to not nod along from start to finish. At the Eye of Chaos isn’t out to change the game with anything out of left field, but rather excels at being a well-written and high quality death metal extravaganza that easily demands many repeat listens. The album is also dedicated to Vance Reon Jeffcoat, the band’s original drummer who tragically passed away in 2017. The band surely would have made their mate proud with a debut that will only further increase the deserved buzz that Olkoth is getting, with a bright future to come. We’ll be along for the ride, with ibuprofen on hand for the unavoidable bangover.