There are many things one can do in 20 minutes. Cook a frozen pizza. Watch an episode of an over-produced and unfunny American sitcom. Slump idly while contemplating the ultimate meaninglessness and futility of life. Now Bog Oak are here to stake their claim on these precious minutes with their short but sweet début EP, A Treatise on Resurrection and the Afterlife. Hailing from Sacramento, this female-fronted three-piece plays crusty blackened doom, with just enough variety and youthful fervour to surpass the other sure-fire time-killers.
A Treatise… is in many ways an unusual hybrid. It is both typical and atypical of blackened doom: the thick, down-tuned guitar tone commonly used is fused with faster and more energetic melodies, verging on crust punk on “The Resurrection of Animals.” Movements between this and the more classic doom are subtle and both aspects are well-executed. “A Sea Without Shore” is a sludgy beast to end on, exemplifying the best of their down-tempo aspects. The typical raspy, shrieked vocals are inter-woven with suitably sombre cleans, to good effect.
The other highlight, “Time Drift Of Seasons,” undergoes transitions from upbeat grooves and aggressive shrieks to memorable syncopated riffs and drumming combined with cleans, all within a trim 3:22. Julie Seymour’s versatility is impressive, switching seamlessly between the two styles. There is great diversity in Bog Oak‘s repertoire, and their enthusiasm is infectious.
Nonetheless, A Treatise… is an uneven EP. The aforementioned highlights represent the second half, with the first half slipping by a little forgettably. The first two tracks are merely fine, compared to the success of the second two. Additionally, the clean vocals are too low in the mix, submerged beneath the thick, heavy guitar and drum tones. Worse than just rendering them far less audible, this also makes them sound ineffectual and unnecessary. Aside from this, the production is spot-on. The arrangements are not complex so the mixing dutifully balances everything, and the mastering lends greater impact to the heavy tones. The guitar has a rawer edge than most doom, reflecting their blackened influences, and it works well within the package.
So in summary, promising stuff from the band in the bog. Their unusually up-tempo interpretation of blackened doom distances them from the crowd and the second half points to great things in the future. The forgettable song-writing of the first half isn’t disastrous, as it is a début EP, and merely requires further finesse on subsequent releases. If that last pizza was served with a side of regret and that last comedy episode left you feeling hollow and emotionally vapid, give Bog Oak a spin. You may just like it.