For all of the distinct positives and equally deep negatives the internet has had on music and bands, one of the greater goods to come from it is the accessibility of artists from countries and places far removed from the media given base and our own country borders. In recent months here alone we have come across stunning bands and releases from the likes of the United Arab Emirates, Russia, South America, and the Maldives to name just four. Bands and music that would have escaped attention before the internet grew its searching claws to go beyond the media force fed likes from the UK and the US. Though Portugal is not situated in the furthest reaches of the globe it is a place where music never really escaped far beyond its walls. So praise the internet for making that possible and for bringing the likes of Thee Orakle to the attention of a great many more, something the release of their excellent new album Smooth Comforts False should turn into an even greater and eager growing mass.
Formed in 2005, Thee Orakle soon built up a fine reputation in their homeland for their well crafted music. It was not long before their sounds made further marks with radio play overseas and a request to them to be part of a compilation release. 2007 saw their debut EP Secret released, more impressive live shows (over the years sharing stages with the likes of Bal-Sagoth, W.A.K.O., Heavenwood, Sirenia, Dark Tranquility, Cynic, Amon Amarth, Orphaned Land), and an increasing attention further afield with airing on further reaching radio shows and through other media vehicles but it was their heavily acclaimed debut album Metaphortime in 2009 that was the point they found themselves a bigger notable name on an ever swelling wave of enthused focus. Now following that up with Smooth Comforts False via Ethereal Sound Works, the band has returned with an even more majestic and stunning album. Their music is an inspiring and mesmeric blend of imaginative progressive metal laced and veined with heady jazz influences, Middle Eastern essences, and symphonic metal graces as well as senses riling metal, groove and tech metal intrusions. It is a mighty unpredictable feast that excites, intrigues, and consistently keeps one enthralled.
The album from the septet of vocalists Micaela Cardoso and Pedro Silva, guitarists J. Ricardo Pinheiro and Pedro Mendes, bassist Daniel Almeida, drummer Frederico Lopes, and Luís Teixeira on keys, is a release that bursts with ingenuity and imagination but weaves it all seamlessly into a musical maze for the deepest satisfaction. Where other bands experiment, many bring a disjointed or punchy intermittent mix which works for them but openly highlights each distinct diversion within the music. Thee Orakle bring all their ideas into a smooth and organic wave of aural beauty, and whether they go from beauteous flighted melodies into djented manipulations or from blood raging aggression into mesmeric ripples of smooth light, the result is always captivating and naturally flowing.
The album opens with Faraway Embrace and immediately it has the senses standing up and grinning with anticipation. The song paces with sturdy formidable riffs and commanding rhythms whilst the guitars entice with fleeting grooves. The keys expand and wrap themselves around the ear as the gruff growls of Silva rough up the edges of song and ear. The wonderful voice of Cardoso than enters to temper and compliment her harsher vocal companion and to walk hand in hand with the warm melodies. Midway the song steps to the side to enter an expressive progressive sound to gently coax and beckon one further inside the vibrant tech metal toned returning attack.
The excellent slightly schizophrenic Psi-drama enters next. The song begins with a sinister impressive tech metal/symphonic tone with again the mix between the two vocalists ideal and impressively worked out. The song along its length ventures into varied and always engaging asides, the song a maelstrom of intensity, surprising imagination and totally addictive, the jazz noir elements and lone soulful trumpet of Ricardo Formoso a pure joy.
Each and every song is masterful, the likes of the brilliantly enterprising and ear wrenching Evil Dreams, the gothic impassioned Winter Threat with the additional Type O Negative sounding male vocals of Marco Benevento (The Foreshadowing), and the irresistible The Bridge of the River Flowing with its ear whipping niggling metallic riffs and melodic caressing amongst the demanding aggressive intent, bringing complete pleasure.
The album produced by Daniel Cardoso, who is an impressive and emerging major force in metal, ends with its best track in Rescue of Mind. The track rampages and stomps from the off earning its right to full attention with an eager immediacy. As it pounds and explores the senses it ripples with skilled direction changes, gloriously crafted innovation , and striking invention, the dazzling mid jazz off shoot soon merging wonderfully into the muscular mass, the song the proof of a band with the ability to create aural Masters.
Smooth Comforts False is one of the most striking and impressive albums this year, it provokes and thrills equally and is the most natural fit for the heart.