Made up of four 10-minute-plus songs that linger more than lash, Oak's debut full-length album is for the patient metal fan. Imagine death metal re-imagined in the band Earth's audio tar pit or classic Maryland doom pumped full of negative space, feedback, and hellbound forest creatures. The music hits its gnashing, gutturally growling stride eventually, in driving jackhammer passages that last barely long enough to get your heart rate up, but fall back off into glacial churn. It's like long-form Burning Witch, but with Jo Gonzalez's brimstone vocals--much eviler. If Burning Witch is a pot band then Oak is onto some deeper, darker stuff.
From the first high feedback moans, opener "Saline" takes nearly 8 minutes to move in for any kind of kill. Feedback waxes and wanes over big, dramatic, full-kit percussive bashes and rolls that only build into more sludge, and more and more. Payoffs, if that's what your looking for, don't happen much, so disregard preconceptions of metal-as-cathartic release. This is haze, tension, and some audio aneurysm where they overlap. That said, when "Inside the Circle" shakes off its 10 minutes of sludge and even riffs for a couple of blinks, it feels like coming up for air. But consider it a brief, mostly harmless earthquake to Oak's tectonic grinding, music that's more interested in moving continents than leveling houses.