Review by Jason Guest
Having been recorded in January and February of 2011, it took a year for Smooth Comforts False to be released. “But why?” I hear you cry, shaking your fists at the vacant heavens above. Dunno, but Portugal’s Thee Orakle’s metal mix of death, doom, and the occasional bit of progressive with plenty of Goth thrown in to the mix is imaginative, dramatic and theatrical in its grandeur.
In terms of musicianship, the guitar work of J. Ricardo Pinheiro and Pedro Mendes is remarkable, the riffs aggressive and technical, the chords dense, the leads melodic. The rhythm section is tight; the fluidity, intensity and complexity of Frederico Lopes’s drums balance power with subtlety to work for the songs; and Daniel Almeida’s bass lines fortify the low end with melodic and rhythmic punch. Luis Teixeira’s keyboards bring texture and depth to the tracks, the gothic element augmented by the haunting vocal of Micaela Cardoso, her soft but very powerful voice delivering tender lyrical passages as well as ghost-like melodies and harmonies. On the heavy side of the spectrum is Pedro Silva whose aggressive vocals would sit comfortably on any number of death or even black metal albums. Together, Thee Orakle is a musical unit with a shared vision, each member working for the music and exploiting their talents to achieve that vision. The heavier side of the album has a death/tech feel to it at times which the melodic gothic side complements very well. The atmospheres are twisted, a blending of the serene, the chilling, and the lunatic planes that slowly shift to make an album that is as varied in dynamics as it is in texture. Of particular note is ‘Psi-drama’ with a jazz/Avant-garde section in the latter half of the track that takes the track – and the album – into new dimensions.
Taking in everything from the brutal and the melodic to the harmonious and the discordant and the psychological and the mysterious, Smooth Comforts False is simultaneously multifaceted and schizophrenic, the latter being the product of the chilling atmospheres, dark ambience and the heavier aspects of the album. But that’s not to suggest that it’s an entity of near-suitable parts stitched together, far from it. The album not once sounds disjointed, the excellent production doesn’t allow for it. Smooth Comforts False is more a sculpture, an elaborate creation of stylish and intricate design, its enjoyment found both in its immediacy and in the attention to its details. Having long been hidden away from the world in the Portuguese metal scene since 2005, this is the album that should bring these adept musicians the audience they deserve.
8 out of 10
- Faraway Embrace
- Mysterious Hours
- Evil Dreams
- Winter Threat
- The Bride Of The River Flowing
Rescue Of Mind