May 10, 2023

Not to be confused with several other bands with the same or similar names, Swedish post-metal collective Black Oak are excited to bring you their debut full-length Egolution, now available on their own label. The band are a quintet, featuring Samuéla Burenstrand on vocals, Robin Olsson on drums, Niklas Olsson on guitar, Magnus Hedblom on bass, and last but not least Emil Fredenmark, also on guitars.

Black Oak are an intriguing set of contrasts – a skilful marriage of darkness and light, gentleness and brutal power, their signature style is to merge ethereal dreamy atmospheres and shimmering melodies with crushing riffs and pummelling rhythms throughout the ten tracks that comprise Egolution. Each song on the record is meticulously measured and musically balanced in terms of its blend of genres, but where the five-piece really excel are during its more delicate moments, such as the use of frontwoman Samuéla Burenstrand’s vocals that really shine forth with a gentle, emotional, and enchanting style of singing. Few can combine angry growls with soft, beautiful melodies, yet Burenstrand accomplishes it with great aplomb. It has to be said you will either love this conflict or not…

Samuéla at the heart of this!

The ten substantive tracks are presaged by 70 seconds worth of “Epilog”, which perfectly captures the cleanliness of the production and the intrigues of the song-set….starting with “Epilog” and finishing with “Prolog”? It morphs straight into Trauma – which lives up to its name! The veering from growls to sweetly soothing is definitely unsettling! Shadows follows, it’s a perfect example of their art, a big studio sound reverberating around my head, a hint of Bjork and more than a hint of mental instability making me distinctly uneasy!

The clarity of production is again underlined in Conflict, featured in the video below. One of the stand-out tracks on the album, really powerful stuff! Following in the same powerful but musical vein, for me the stand-out track being the album’s longest. Transition is particularly impressive, capturing the band at their clinical best.

Lyrically, Egolution is a concept album about the struggles we face as humans. Sometimes we fall. We hit a brick wall in life and find ourselves in a dark place with no knowledge of where to go next; when you feel lost and unsure of your direction and are trying to navigate a way through the darkness within yourself. Be prepared for an intense and emotional musical journey into the depths of the human mind…