Not for the first time, I’m grateful we have Metal-Archives, because it provides evidence that this Tennessee band is the only active one on the planet with the name Oubliette. And why is that worth noting? Because Oubliette is one of the most metal band names I can think of.
It’s an old word, a French one, its earliest recorded use dating back to 1374. Although another old French word — donjon — seems to have been the source for the English word dungeon, the oubliette was the true dungeon, at least as that latter word has come to be understood. The donjon was instead a castle tower, or “keep”. The oubliette was the dark, claustrophobic hole underground, often accessed only by a trapdoor or hatchway from the room above, where doomed wretches were imprisoned or tortured, some of those cells so small that lying down or even turning around was impossible. In time, as we are told, oubliettes became symbols of hidden cruelty and tyrannical power.
The melodic black metal band from Murfreesboro who took Oubliette as their name first took shape in 2011 as the studio project of husband and wife Mike Low (guitars, also a member of Inferi) and Emily Low (vocals), with the line-up now filled out by drummer Greg Vance and bassist James Turk (both of whom are also members of Enfold Darkness). We admired Oubliette’s 2014 debut album, Apparitions (when the band had a different bassist and drummer), and have been curious to learn what they might do next. And now we’ll find out, because Oubliette’s second album, The Passage, is set for release on July 13th by The Artisan Era.
The Passage, Mike Low tells us, “is a story of loss and grief, which comes to a tragic end. We are very proud of how everything turned out and feel like our sound and concept has been captured perfectly on the record.” The first sign of what the new albums holds in store is the title track that we’re premiering today through a riveting lyric video — and this song also happens to be the closing track, marking the end of the album’s narrative arc.
And at this point it should be added that in addition to the talents of the four people named above, The Passage also includes the work of two more guitarists — Todd Harris (Battle Path) (who also contributes some backing vocals) and Andrew Wampler (Ophiuchus).
Yes — that makes three guitarists in this new Oubliette line-up, and the richness of the guitar performances in the title track you’re about to hear is part of what makes the song so impressive. As dark as the melodic currents and lyrics in the song are, the music is also strikingly vibrant and emotionally evocative. The strafing tremolo runs and boiling leads sear and soar, ripple and gleam, creating elaborate and immersive musical textures and conveying changing moods of yearning and hopelessness, defiance and pain, beauty and terror.
The song also draws great strength from the explosive but nuanced power of the rhythm section, their performances produced in a way that gives the song low-end heaviness and physical punch, which often contrasts with the almost ethereal shine of the electrifying guitar melodies. And last, but certainly not least, Emily Low’s harsh vocals are shatteringly intense, an incarnation of bitterness and rage that further enhances the dramatic power of this tragic but thrilling piece of music.
The Passage was recorded and mixed by Oubliette’s Mike Low, and it was mastered by Anagnorisis member Zak Denham. The wonderful cover art was created by Justin Abraham, whose work has also appeared on releases by A Loathing Requiem, Aepoch, and Lecherous Nocturne.
The Passage will be released on vinyl, CD, and digitally, and is also being offered in merch bundles. Pre-order info can be found below.
1. A Pale Innocence
2. The Curse
6. The Raven’s Lullaby
8. The Passage