Olen'k - Silently Noisy
Dang it, I love surprises! I got this new full length by Olen'k in the mail and I must say that this is one incredible album. The band hails from France (don't worry, I won't get into the debate about how our two countries feel about each other right now), and this is their first full length that is following an EP that must have been pretty good to land themselves on CMI. I hate quoting bio's as much as the next reviewer cause sometimes they can be greatly exaggerated and full of crap information. However, this versatile group's bio defines their style better than I ever could. CMI describes them as "a synthesis of classical and modern genres, with sounds drawn from the eighties cold-wave era which Olen'k enrich with their own ethno-electro touch: from darkwave and trip-pop ambiances to groovy ethereal and world music." Perfectly said. This band mixes all different styles so flawlessly that it's breathtaking. And while the music is beautiful and melodic, the thing that shines even more are the passionate vocal performances. The band only lists one female in the band (although two others guest on a couple songs), but if you look closer it states that a lady named Cecile Gonzales joins the other female member Elise Montastier on the majority of the songs. Regardless, the vocal work is fabulous. At times dreamy, at times soothing, at times soaring, at times sounding almost like a small church choir of vocals. In fact, the song "Silencio" has this choir sound and guest singer Stéphane Bourgeault sounds ever so similar to Eva-O (which is a good thing on this song).
I just do not get tired of listening to this disc. The music will envelope you and wrap you tight and the vocals will swirl through your ears, every so softly drawing you into the world that is Olen'k. This almost sounds (at times) similar to what Sanctum would have sounded like had Lena stayed with the band and had they went in an even more poppier direction than they had already started to head into before they recorded Let's Eat. Definitely not a sound alike band, but similarities exist...especially on the song "Insomnia".
Another cool thing about this band is their lyrical content. While sometimes vague, at other times they really have some good stuff to say. The song "Ego" really stands out to me. The person singing describes ego by saying..."I don't want to be possessed/This is like a horrible incest/Are you really here in my hurtful words/What else can I feel/attractive is your sound/Lost in your hesitations/desert my confessions/Escape this prison/Escape this place I fear/Escape this place I love/But always this way/to come and go/Way of Evil/logic of Ego/and I think it is just my own ghost/But I don't wanna be anymore its host." Pretty cool way to describe it. Another interesting lyrical song is "How Hard". It seems to describe the hardness of judging other's intentions or maybe the hard shell that others put up to not allow others in their lives. "Hard relationship I see/Hard relations/Frightening rictus/perverse smile/hypocrisy they play/too much/So hard to believe/So hard to flow/so hard to give/so hard to know/I see their glances/see them/my only desire/to stare at you with my love/around this beliefs/nothing seems to reach their souls/you're not alone." Another song, "Divided", speaks of the break up of a relationship. While offering no real hope or happy ending, they capture the hatred and pain that many have been through. Another song "The Bar" talks of a man and woman who go into a bar and notice each other and although they are attracted to each other the man leaves without them ever talking. The closing lyrics state, "And they were just looking/at each other doing/anything else than asking/'are you searching for what/you can see in my eyes'/he said with a smile/she said singing this song." Nothing groundbreaking or spiritually enriching, but lyrics that describe the feelings that many people go through in their day to day lives. I guess in a way, the topics on this album can be somewhat depressing and hopeless, but they capture human emotion in an interesting way.
When I think of pleasant surprises, I will often think of this band. Olen'k has impressed me a great deal and while it's so different from my usual intake of metal, it's a welcome departure on that day when nothing else seems to fit.
Review By: Matt Morrow
Label: Cold Meat Industry
Total Songs: 11
Total Time: 55:52
Tracklisting: 1. Season of Tears, 2. How Hard, 3. She's Dead, 4. Ego, 5. Insomnia, 6. Divided, 7. Obscura Lua, 8. The Bar, 9. Delhi, 10. Reve Eveille, 11. Silencio.
Best Songs: Tracks 1 and 4
Band Lineup: Elise Montastier, Cecile Gonzales, Patrice Debet, and Manu Costa.
Band Website: http://www.olenk.com