Tightly coiled, suffocating tension and brooding heaviness comprise Ølten‘s sophomore full-length record, Ambiance.
Following 2015’s massive-sounding Mode, Ambiance sees the Swiss trio displaying new sides of their sound. Whereas its predecessor seemed to embrace the modus operandi of post-metal, Ambiance deconstructs the traditional motifs associated with the genre and reassembles them in unique fashions. The result is eight songs of deceptive simplicity, subtle complexity, hypnotic repetition, and a fair amount of insurmountable atmospheric weight. The songs are stripped-down yet meticulously crafted, with loads of nuance hidden in plain sight. Despite the cozy living space on its cover, Ambiance is anything but a comfortable listen.
The sprawling “Igelkott” kicks the record off to a quiet start but ends in skull-caving heaviness. Clean, foreboding chords echo among a hollow backdrop as angular bass grooves and ever thundering drumming keeps the song flowing into a colossal climax of gritty dissonance. The seemingly straightforward track is peppered with subtle rhythmic shifts that create a churning, seasick feeling throughout the majority of its duration. Once it reaches its heavy conclusion, the towering guitar riffs walk hand-in-hand with hulking bass lines fitted with bludgeoning tones that wouldn’t sound out of place on a noise rock record. This particular track sets the stage for the sinister and gargantuan sounds to come.
“Raus” follows shortly after “Igelkott” with an undeniably punishing riff that melds dissonance and melody with ease. After a quick assault of caustic doom, the track bleeds into a slow-burning midsection populated by pulsating bass lines and gradual guitar layering that builds into a miasma of sound before the sludge returns. The aptly titled sixth track, “Sludge”, brings more monstrous sludge sounds to the record. The song’s city-leveling opening riff immediately flattens listeners into paste with each chord. Then the song’s subsequent interplay between haunting, icy verses and waves of noise-laden riffs swoops in and finishes the job.
Tracks like the nearly seven-minute “Gover” shows how Ølten‘s extensive use of restraint really pays off. The song creeps along with subdued bass grooves and entrancing, yet sinister sounding riffs that are heavily repeated to the point where they are engraved in listener’s mind. The drumming gradually gets more aggressive and intricate as the song progresses, signifying a big tonal shift to come. It is not until the nearly five-minute mark that all of this tension is released in a barrage of post-metal chords that swell into a sensory-overload of dissonance.
Ølten‘s Ambiance weaves together crushing heaviness and atmospheric dread into a formidable sound that fans of the genre will not want to miss.
Release Date: November 2, 2018
Label: Hummus Records
Favorite Tracks: “Raus”, “Klark”, “Gover” and “Pope”
For Fans Of: Abraham, Amenra and Hemelbestormer