Updated: Jan 19, 2021
Have you ever listened to a rock or metal track, heard that classic guitar feedback intro, and wondered what it might sound like if someone turned that into an entire album? Well, Minneapolis-based drone outfit Sacred Oak has taken that idea and turned it into an art form in the tradition of acts such as Boris and Sunn 0))). In fact, their debut album, Dronedemo, is a nod to both of these bands acknowledging their influence on the sound and aesthetic of this album. This album occupies a strange space in between metal and ambient that I was not previously aware existed but I am glad to have found.
The entire album is filled with a beautiful variety of guitar tones that vary from heavy and crushing, such as those heard on the track Relentless, to comparatively light and airy as heard on the track Cloud Chamber. These guitar tones are accompanied by a variety of other droning textures such as static and what sounds like thick pads playing long, droning notes. These elements combine beautifully in a way that creates a perception of swelling throughout each track. This swelling slowly builds until the end as heavy chords and notes are hit slightly faster as the track progresses. This continues until each track ends and each element slowly or abruptly fades and we are left with a single tone that the track fades away on. With the final end of the album, I felt a strange sense of relief. It was as if I had just come off a long trip and was completely refreshed.
Dronedemo is an odd creation. It is both soothing and uncomfortable at the same time. I found myself exhausted and entranced by the low and protracted length of the tracks, but I never felt tempted to turn it off. Instead, I sat there in my low-lit studio staring out the window at a cold and blustery evening outside and felt myself having some kind of strange spiritual experience. I would recommend listening to this album under the same conditions, you may get to experience something similar.