Oppress. / The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit

UK Black Metal outfit Oppress. return with a second full-length, The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit, a follow-up to their 2021 Regina Mundi EP. That EP, 2020’s No.Pity. and the 2019 demo Omnigasm, were solo projects. Now, founder Demoniac Vermimancer O.G., concentrating on guitars and bass, has been joined by versatile talents of The Wrong Reverend J:XIX on vocals and the Ouroboros Emesis on drums. 

Oppress.

The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit (K.V.N.T. Kolektiv)

Release Date: 9 May 2024

Words: Jools Green

Given Ouroboros’ experience in both the field of Brutal Death Metal and punk, he is an ideal candidate to put behind the kit as some pretty complex timing is required from him across this album. 

You also now get more of a scathing, acidic vocal delivery alongside a broad range of other voices from J:XIX in place of the equally good, unnervingly raw, ghoulish delivery on the previous offerings from O.G. 

Oppress. - The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit
Oppress. – The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit – With a raw Black Metal sound at the core, there are echoes of subtle elements of the old school.

Soundwise, The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit is a fascinating offering. With a raw Black Metal sound at the core, there are echoes of subtle elements of the old school. 

Think Black Funeral’s 1995 album Vampyr Throne Of The Beast, and add to that discordance and unpredictable variance in tempo and a very outside-of-the-box thinking that sculpts Black Metal to fit the Oppress. vision. 

This is not Black Metal made to fit the assumed boundaries of the genre. The result is an unpredictable and exciting, delightfully unique and unsettling, aural assault that delivers ten tracks spanning an engaging forty-three minutes. 

Opening on Spoon Fed From Heaven’s Chamber Pot, where an insane undulating drive, discordant riffs, acerbic vocals and intense militaristic drum rhythms assault your senses from the offset. Sharp direction switching and pace drops add to the complex nature of this piece, across which a raw hypnotic repeat riff dominates, holding the track cleverly together.

Initially slower, Miscreant is complexly discordant and jarring but hugely engaging. You get a superb vocal range here. Raw, protracted vocals build into a deeper, more sinister delivery that appears between shouts. The track also gradually builds towards a concluding deranged mood.

The title alone of the next piece, Rotisserie Christ, appeals hugely to my warped sense of humour, and as a bonus, it’s also a superb piece. One of my favourites on the album, it’s predominantly slow, sinister, dark and hugely unnerving. The phrasing across the track is precise and dramatic. You still get the discordance, and the vocals are deep and chillingly unnerving, with the final minute building to an insane pace with spiralling riffs. 

Initially, a thin and linear piece to open Gibbet delivers acidic vocals that expand into something fascinatingly complex and bizarre. There’s a slow but complex drop and build, with excellent vocal layers, some clean, some acidic, which adds a sinister air. A track that is musically sharp and jarring yet hypnotic, which I like with the pace steadily ebbing and building in greater increments. Once again, a dramatic drop to silence is followed by a slow, sinister rebuild to a frantic conclusion. 

The first of two short pieces, How I Got Here, is just a searing sound, a high-pitched noise that builds as it progresses, then fades and stops, making way for Do The Wrong Thing. This melds chunks of standard-sounding Black Metal with insanely discordant bursts. The vocals, at times, have a heavy distortion on them. A long segment in the second half of soundbites, with just a trace of tremolo picking echoing through, pick back up to the discordant element and pounding drum work. A quirky piece that is cleverly Avant-garde.

Opening on haunting and sparse guitar with whispering vocal echoes, The Black Door To The Law assumes a slow crawling pace. There are acerbic vocals and jangling guitar that every now and then veers off with a kilter twist. Further in, the vocals turn superbly sinister with a more acidic, guttural and protracted leaning to their delivery as they weave their way through the crawling instrumentation. There is so much atmosphere to this piece. It’s another favourite with me.

The second short piece, The Means Of All Government And Authority, is a spoken word piece with slowed down and distorted eerie vocal content. This is followed by the rather aptly titled Love, a brutal, complex and discordant assault on the senses. TThe second half drops away to a bleaker, slower pace, with a spoken element and maniacal laughing, building back to the more discordant assault it began with.

Final piece and title track, The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit, is a well-layered driver with an engaging build and drop. Each musical element is clearly defined [drums, guitars and vocals], but they also mesh together well. One of the more seemingly straightforward pieces, but there are complex elements tucked in there, especially as you get towards the close, where it turns into a wonderfully chaotic and squealing discordant frenzy.

The boldly controversial artwork is by Hoang Dao Hieu of Imperial Cult of Black Metal band Elcrost from Hanoi, Vietnam, who also created the artwork for the Regina Mundi EP. 

The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit is one of the most fascinating and challenging albums I’ve had the privilege of reviewing. It’s not an easy listen, but it’s hugely engaging and it demands your full unwavering attention. 

A thought-provoking and cleverly complex offering, so if you are tiring of the same old Black Metal and fancy a different and challenging listen, you might just find that in this release. 

The Subtle Art Of Turning Gold Into Shit will be available in CD and digital formats from Oppress. at Bandcamp and K.V.N.T. Kolektiv at Bandcamp.

Sleeve Notes

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