Ølten brings to the table a record that oozes grit, plays well to the upcoming winter months, and will certainly be one to capture the attention of those who love post-metal, doom, and sludge.
With the upcoming The Ocean record on the horizon, I’ve been filling my boots with plenty of post-metal bands, and having checked out Ølten‘s previous record Mode, I thought it pertinent to pick this one up, too. Both are suited to this time of year when the clocks roll back, and the northern hemisphere is shrouded in darkness and bleak weather.
Ølten‘s new record Ambiance pays tribute to its name, but not in the way an unaware listener might expect. Ølten plays the dronier side of post-metal, so expect to hear long, drawn-out riffs and segments that rely on repetitive chords and distortions. These then escalate into furious climaxes, that oscillate in their frequency and aggressiveness. Later in the record, with the song “Popoutro”, you’ll hear the bands version of ‘ambience’ – where they bleed out gruelling effects to create an unsettling atmosphere – similar to some of the tracks off of Opium Eater‘s record Ennui. Some of the introductions also lull the listener into a false sense of security before unleashing hell upon them further down the line, like in the opener “Ingelkott”.
One of the best sounds on the album comes from the bass, which has a beautiful growl to it, and can be heard at its best in “Lied”. It tore asunder the fabric of understanding that I had on bass tones, and certainly competes, if not beats, DVNE‘s earthy bass tone in Asheran. The drums are also given a lot of breathing room in this record, and on one of my favourite songs, “Klark”, it rules the roost and is the centre of attention for a lot of the song. A compliment must be paid to the mixing of the drums, as the reverb that follows the snappy snare and kick-drum makes this song work so effectively. It keeps what could be a tame beat from boring the listener and instead guides the music to the inevitable tidal wave of sludge that follows.
Whilst on the lighter scale when compared to Ølten, another record I drew similarities to was the HEADS record from earlier this year. Especially on “Ingelkott” and “Sludge” can comparisons to their record be made. In the same fashion, Ølten composes their songs to be quite jarring and unsettling for the listener, which creates a deeper seated urge to move to their songs. “Sludge” itself is a song to behold, the ambient guitars that surround the opener give way to more post-influenced ones later in the song, as the climax roars to a conclusion.
I’ve really enjoyed my time with this record, and I’m looking forward to exploring the mind-blowingly heavy riffs in more detail over the next few months. It’s certainly one that fans of doom, sludge, and post-metal will enjoy. Looking back at my review as I wrap up, I realise I didn’t even mention the fact that the record is instrumental – something that must be heralded. It’s not often you sit through an instrumental record and a thought doesn’t cross your mind along the lines of, ‘maybe this song could use some vocals’, but Ambiance proves that you do not need growls or cleans to make a record engaging and tantric as Ølten have. What you’ll find with this record, and its predecessor, is the misleading cover art gives false impressions of the content. This bright, arty cover is misleading as hell; you’re in for a titanic album of sludgy crush.