Osi and the Jupiter – Stave Review

Beneath a recent (and rather excellent) review of a wholly unremarkable album, a rather tedious debate began about whether the band in question qualified as metal. To save everyone time, bile and memes, allow me to begin this review by clarifying that this album that I am about to review is absolutely, 100% not metal. Unless, I suppose, one starts to question whether metal is defined by the ethos and feel of an album, rather than actual elements of the sound that make up a … Now that we’ve got that unpleasantness out the way, let’s turn to consider Osi and the Jupiter, which, despite being definitely non ferrous, is for some reason presented to us by German black and death label, and home of my beloved Panzerfaust, Eisenwald. The brainchild of Sean Kratz, – who seems to more often go by the moniker Sean Deth in the likes of Ulven and Witchhelm or by Lucian in Lucian the Wolfbearer Osi and the Jupiter is a folk duo (completed by cellist Kackophonix), coming out of the Appalachian region of eastern Ohio, U.S. and Stave is the project’s fourth album, following 2019’s Nordlige Rúnaskog.

Stave is an immersive, otherworldly experience, as Osi and the Jupiter weave tales of mysticism and folklore in their native lands. Bridging the sizeable gap between Myrkur and 16 Horsepower, synths and Kackophonix’ sombre cello cast atmospheric shadows, while Kratz’s almost tribal percussion and acoustic strings dance round the dying embers of a campfire. Some tracks, like opener “To Reap What has Sown” and the haunting “Cosmic Creation through Primordial Void,” eschew vocals altogether. On others, such as “Folk of the Woods” and “Old Ways,” Kratz’s crooning tones have a cracked, olde quality to them that lends the package a feeling of dusty age, while the choral chants by Anilah of Dréa Drury on “Wights” change the mood again, introducing a ghostly melancholia into proceedings.

Across Stave, Osi and the Jupiter toy with a range of influences (in addition to Myrkur and 16HP), including the folky best of Thrawsunblat’s Great Brunswick Forest or even the likes of “Maritime Shores” from their Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings. Comparisons to the folk elements of Panopticon are also hard to get away from, while hints of Lord Buffalo’s gothic Americana also creep in. At other times, like on “Old Ways,” there are nods to Flyin’ Shoes-era Townes van Zandt, while at others, the cello conjures comparisons to the likes of Raphael Weinroth-Browne. What Osi and the Jupiter do so well across Stave is manage the flow of the record, so the brooding menace of the synths of “Inner Flame” transition seamlessly into the acoustic string-driven lament of “Mountain Shamanism.” The record closes on an unexpected, and unexpectedly good, instrumental cover of The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin.” Both instantly recognizable and entirely its own piece, Kackophonix’ cello transforms the track into a plaintive, wistful cry of sorrow, closing the album on a hugely evocative note.

Stave represents a significant step up from Nordlige Rúnaskog. It’s not that Osi and the Jupiter has dramatically changed the template but rather they’re painting their art in more vibrant and varied hues, with more compelling shades of light and dark. The lows are haunting and harrowing but there are lighter moments scattered across the record that carry you up from the depths, while the transitions between synth-driven gothic ambience, tribal percussion and pure folk, weave a compelling narrative. The production helps this, giving Stave an organic earthiness that feels natural and rich, lending the record a depth and weight that allows the emotion to really come through.

Osi and the Jupiter have crafted a delicate and emotive record with Stave. Its moods ebb and flow, shifting from sorrowful, keening ambience to rough-hewn folk in a compelling way that lead me through its 53 minutes without ever feeling overlong, repetitive or lacking in ideas. The emotional heft it carries helps this, undoubtedly, but it’s also incredibly well executed. The fact that Osi and the Jupiter actually pull off the cover of “Nights in White Satin” speaks volumes for the quality of this album.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Eisenwald Records
Websites: osifolk.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/osifolk
Releases Worldwide: August 27th, 2021

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