Oshiego – Jaljalut Review

Coming fresh off a year that closed with some truly mighty death metal releases, it felt like a gamble to dive into the promo sump (proudly uncleaned since 2015!) for another dose of buzzsaw chugs and guttural growls. But what better way to wipe off the grime of 2021 and embrace all the shiny new filth that 2022 has to offer? As reviewers, aren’t we called to shake off the expectations thrust upon us by the previous year to look with renewed vigor at all the new releases on the horizon? I wouldn’t know. I never read the AMG mission statement delivered to my home by Steel‘s limping man-servant, and I don’t intend to start now.1 But regardless, here I am, ready to review the latest release from Singapore-based death metalers Oshiego. Boasting over a decade of experience, does Jaljalut, their fifth full-length album, give me hope for 2022?

Oshiego play a very familiar style of death metal, with plenty of old school charm and technical flair. According to the promo material accompanying the album, their sound is described as a “relentless assault” and “crushing,” featuring an “uncompromising old school approach.” I wouldn’t disagree with these accolades outright, because for the most part, Jaljalut proves itself to be quite the “relentless” beast, maintaining a consistent, if overwhelmingly repetitive speed and tone throughout. This by-the-books approach is (more or less) accurately described as “old school” in the promo text, and in many ways, it works to Oshiego’s advantage. Much of that can be attributed to guitarist Zul and session drummer Krzysztof Klingbein, who deliver a dual onslaught of dizzying percussion and hefty riffs, festooned with the kind of solos that cause you to wince in high-pitched delight. Unfortunately, Oshiego seem to have forgotten that even the old masters sought variety within the confines of the genre.

Jaljalut isn’t a bad album, but it certainly feels like a stagnant one. While each track dispenses with moody intros in favor of straightforward, audible assaults, by the fourth song I began to worry that Oshiego may have already run out of ideas. By the fifth song, things started blending together and my worry turned to woe. This takeaway is odd, considering the aforementioned guitar/drum combo. There are some great riffs on display here, particularly on “A Death Sentence,” “The Scourge,” “Provenance” and the titular “Jaljalut.” What’s more, the dynamic duo of Zul and Klingbein are able to straddle the line between technical and engaging, most notably on “A Death Sentence” and “A Notice of War,” both of which pack some strong Black Royal vibes. And yet the whole is lesser than the sum of its parts. Much of this (but certainly not all of it) can be blamed on the vocals, which conform to the growly death metal standard but lack the accompanying emotive tension that can lend even the most cartoonish DM acts some weight. While adequately brutal, the vocals are delivered in a flat, monotone roar that grows tiresome and sours the overall experience, especially after repeated listens.

It’s no surprise that the saving grace here are Zul and Klingbein’s laudable performances. Together, they’re able to deliver some truly enjoyable moments, perhaps most memorably on tracks like “The Book of the Sun and Gnosis and the Subtleties of Elevated Things” and “Of the Flesh.” After a year jam-packed with high-quality tech death releases, these two turn in virtuosic performances that harken to the halcyon days of 2021 without going overboard; just enough noodling to get your attention without threatening to alienate the vehemently anti-tech lobby. But it’s just not enough to save Jaljalut, a paint-by-numbers album that tries too hard to be reliable instead of interesting.

I started out this review worried that diving head-first into a death metal release so soon after a banner year for the genre might be a mistake. What I’ve decided is that while my expectations are decidedly high after 2021, my expectations are always high, and it’s why I’ve delivered the verdict you see below. Oshiego certainly has the chops to produce a solid OSDM platter, but there are just too many aspects that fall short, and just too few chances taken. So has Jaljalut zapped my hope for 2022? Hardly. Some of these riffs n’ fills are too tasty to stay sore, even if you won’t find me spinning it again.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Seven Kings Productions
Websites: oshiego.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/oshiego
Releases Worldwide:
January 14th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Bummer. I was really starting to like you too. – Holdeneye
« »