Okera - _A Beautiful Dystopia_
(Independent, 2012)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (8 out of 10)
Okera's debut _A Beautiful Dystopia_ presents a magnificent example of how balancing death and doom metal can be illuminating and maintain gigantic sonic proportions. Tempo goes a little against the sheer size of a track, which is why most of the seven prime cuts on _A Beautiful Dystopia_ don't really cross the genre-mandated speed limits. This gives the melodies lots of space to develop and fully mature. The bass is quite low and slow and it makes for a very stable rhythm section when coupled with the methodical and pulsating drums. The vocals are exclusively executed in the industry standard low-growl, while the two guitars chug away with thick distortions and haunting chords.

I wouldn't say that _A Beautiful Dystopia_ is just another above average album that has all the elements we've come to enjoy in any given doom/death album; these guys have something extra. There seems to be an overpowering ethos that takes over you as soon as the massive nine minute opener "The Black Rain" starts off. The album's fifty-six minute duration will have you enjoying lots of high moments like the crushing double bass and spine chilling melodies on the brilliant "All That's Lost", the crushing weight of "In Solitude" and the dark allure of "I Hope". Finally, the title track comes at the end of the album to summarize and elevate all the goodness that ensued over the course of the forty-six minutes before it. It's a standalone giant with ten minutes of growls, blasts and huge walls of distorted guitars.

I've pointed out before that I usually find more creativity as I go further underground, and Okera is no exception. This Melbourne quartet is so far unsigned, yet they've somehow mustered up a very impressive debut in _A Beautiful Dystopia_. This independence can in many cases end up in the band shooting itself in the proverbial foot, because recording and producing a full-length is not cheap. In some sadder cases, a band's budget will give them a sub-par production that irreversibly damages the quality of their music. Thankfully, Okera avoided that. Of course the production job on _A Beautiful Dystopia_ could have been better, but it definitely doesn't harm the music. All the instruments sound clear enough and nothing is needlessly overblown in volume.

This is a highly commendable effort by a young band that could send shockwaves in a sub-genre of metal that is heavily characterized by its measured brutality and sonic mass. This is a band that has the potential of being a major hit among fans of all things doom and gloom -- and anyone who enjoys massive metal. Need more convincing? They're currently touring with fellow Australians Be'lakor so go check them out.

Contact: https://www.facebook.com/okeraband

(article published 2/9/2012)

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