Review: Ovnev – Transpiration

Ovnev is a one-man atmospheric black metal project from Spring in Texas, USA, created by West Maddox. His third full length Transpiration consists of five tracks summing up to 44 minutes that take the listener on a journey of discovery about the earth’s water cycle.

Opening track Eons of Origin starts off with sounds of water on a shore before a mellow acoustic guitar, a smooth bass and dry, groovy drums evoke memories of the Opeth of old. Then the electric guitars come in with tremolo picked riffs, the drums pick up the pace and the vocals join in. The riffs are very melancholic yet contain flickers of hope, while the vocals float somewhat in the background and alternate with a somber guitar melody that kicks in every now and then. The main effort lies with the drums, that are in charge of keeping the dynamics interesting by switching between different well fitting patterns and throwing in well placed fills.

This mode of operation carries over to tracks two through five. The guitars mostly stay with tremolo picked riffs, bringing interesting chords and harmonics to the table, setting the mood. Every once in a while, a nice melody takes the reigns, but mostly it’s atmospheric shredding all the way. The drums dictate the dynamics, alternating between blasts and other fast rhythms. They are tight and well done, and the fills keep things interesting. The vocals sound like almost an afterthought. They are not bad, but fulfill more of a support role both in the songwriting as in the mix. All the black metal riffing parts are very repetitive, which is not a bad thing either. The hypnotic nature of the black metal soundscape allows the acoustic passages that are used in every song to shine even more, like suddenly stepping out of the onslaught of a hurricane to reach its eye.

In my opinion, this is atmospheric black metal at its best, but it will certainly not be for everyone. If you look for memorable riffs, this is not for you. If you look for a catchy chorus, this is not for you. If you look for a modern, crystal clear production, this is not for you. This record is far away from the mainstream, and shows no indication of trying to appeal to a wider audience. But it is an absolutely beautiful, hypnotic, melancholic journey that I am very glad I departed on. I highly recommend Transpiration!

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