I was having a conversation a couple of days ago with one of the Vault’s newer writers when the topic of genre specialization came up. If you’re a music writer who predominantly covers one specific type of music, how can you best convey the sometimes subtle differences between bands or albums to an audience that may not be all that familiar with them? The things that may seem obvious to a devotee of that style, but that a neophyte would likely not pick up on?
And I know what you loyal Vault Hunters are likely thinking right now, and the answer is yes. Occelensbrigg is indeed a Portuguese black metal band, and a really fucking good one at that. The one-man project is part of the shadowy Aldebaran Circle alongside Vöemmr, Ordem Satânica, and Trono Além Morte – a quartet of band which, as far as I’m concerned, represent the apex of the current wave of Portuguese black metal. The last of the four to release a full-length, Occelensbrigg’s The Quest for the Star Mountain will be out on August 8 on Harvest of Death Records (preorder here), but we’re streaming the full thing for you here today, exclusively at the Vault.
So what makes Occelensbrigg different from any of the other Portuguese bands I’ve written about? To the uninitiated, it probably seems like a hot mess: trebly, distant-sounding guitars and drums buried so far in the mix that the only the cymbals are consistently audible, occasionally topped off with a ghoulish sort of growl instead of the more traditional ghastly shriek. But there’s far more at play on the four lengthy tracks that comprise The Quest for the Star Mountain than what those not disposed to appreciate the genre might dismiss as ‘kvlt atmosphere.’
Honestly, just a simple glance at the song titles should be the first clue that there’s something different going on here: “The Revenge of the Imposing Oak Forest” and “The Falling Guardians of Death and Life” certainly don’t sound like the typical ‘Satan and hatred’ lyrics one would expect from this sort of band. Not quite high fantasy, not quite occult – perhaps some psilocybin-induced liminal space in between? There’s something vaguely, darkly psychedelic about Occelensbrigg’s music. Hypnotic like all the best black metal, but fall in too deeply and you may end up somewhere you don’t really want to be. Fuck a rabbit hole – The Quest for the Star Mountain is more like a vortex. Proceed at your own risk, bur definitely proceed.