Okhema – Okhema

3 min read

Band: Okhema
Title: Okhema
Label: Black Metal Musicians Productions
Release date: April 22nd, 2023
Country: Italy
Format reviewed: CD Quality Digital Promo

The past weeks the self-titled debut album by Italian black metal act Okhema has accompanied me on forest walks, city commutes, to the gym and in the laundry room. This is the type of music that makes every situation flows smoother, every problem easier to solve.

From the first aggressive riffs of starting track “Krypts” the roots in the 90s Gothenburg death metal scene are clear. I feel right at home. The epic, yet well-structured, melodies remind me of early Dissection, and the way the vocals follow the rhythm of the melodic guitar reminds me of other Swedish acts. Especially “Lost” brings memories of early works by Naglfar and Mörk Gryning. The harmonic duet between vocalist and guitarist tones down the aggression and gives room for an epic feeling in the flow.

The tone of the guitar is warm and consistent. The tempo is moderate, with plenty of space for elaborate melody work and deep nuances that are heard only when listening several times. The vocal style also remind me of early Dissection with aggressive precision and passionate feeling, yet consistent and reliable all through the album, without any unnecessary decoration.

I deeply appreciate this album. It is well worked through by skilled musicians, clearly grounded in the depth of the genre but still based in personal creativity. There is not one riff or melody I recognize from the metal history. Rather I am transported to the times when I delved into those earlier acts and hear the songs of Okhema as a continuation. It is a work of deep respect for the roots, still crafting a path of their own.

My favourite track is “Collateral Existence Forms”. With its gentle triple time it feels like a Nordic lullaby. The melody is both simple and subtle, keeping my attention all the way through. The extensive use of triple time that occurs through the album changes the flow and gives Okhema a rounder feeling, like ocean waves coming and going with an intensity that is soothing rather than threatening.

Every track of the album is distinct, with a melody and flow that could be a single hit on its own. Still to listen to the whole album is a restful experience. The songs follow each other like natural waves. The only time I lose focus is when the blipping occurs from nowhere in “Imploding Beneath”. I fail to see the benefit of this addition to the atmosphere but then I am a grumpy old black metal purist who never saw the benefit of any synthesizer ever so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.

All in all I am deeply impressed by this debut. I have the feeling that this is only the start of something big and interesting that is to come. I will be watching out for the future releases from the talented brothers of Okhema. 8/10 by Ask Den Hängde


8/10: To Greatness and Glory
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