Album Review: Oak Pantheon – The Absence (Self Released)

Minnesota metal band Oak Pantheon will release their long-awaited third full-length album ‘The Absence’ on January 20th, 2023.

They’re not an easy band to categorise, but that certainly doesn’t mean Oak Pantheon don’t have a lot of recognisable elements. In an unduly fascinating way, they take atmospheric black metal, blend it with folk, throw in a dash of post, layer it all with melody, all while balancing the tone of harsh heaviness and intensity.

The contrast in Oak Pantheon’s musical styles couldn’t be better showcased then with the first two tracks on this album; Becoming None and Listen! The former’s acoustic intro, warming melodic growth, and eventual transition into powerful folk-infused atmospheric/post metal is exceptionally delightful. Whereas the latter is frenetic and aggressive, a mix of bone-sawing guitars, hefty percussion, and garish vocals.

It’s clearly the same band (there is still lots of melody), but the difference between the two tracks is quite surprising. It helps that both tracks are class acts though, and most will simply appreciate the talents involved. Especially as the band continue to excel as they hit darker tones with Dissociate, the bass doing a lot of the heavy lifting here. Before offering up some of the album’s prettiest melodies and moving atmospheres with the dramatic Beating Heart.



Having pulled on the heart strings with that previous track, Oak Pantheon make a play for the soul next with the blackened frenzy that is Bard of the Hell-Bent Ages. Instrumental speed, post-like, melody led tone shifts, and with eccentric twists throughout. It’s as fascinating as it is exciting.

Decisions comes next, the shortest track on the album, it’s arguably Oak Pantheon at their most uncouth. Which is enjoyable because it’s such a short track. Especially when compared to what comes next. Which just happens to be longest track on the album, Silence We Plead. A magnificent effort with thrilling stages of deepening melody and atmosphere, showcasing exceptional evolution, and leaving an undeniable sense of awe afterwards.

It almost seems silly for Oak Pantheon to have another track in the bank afterwards, but this band is on a roll and deliver one last enormous effort with Old Yarn. The blackened fire in this track is one thing, but the melodic atmosphere is quite another.

The Absence is easily an early contender for album of the year. It’s that good. A gaudy blend of styles that come together to create something truly outstanding.

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  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Oak Pantheon – The Absence (Self Released)
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