The belated follow-up to 2018’s False Memory Archive from Norwegian prog/rock/folk four-piece Oak shows such a natural progression (pun intended) that the new album The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise keeps their trademark sound but addresses subjects such as mental health and suicide in such a way as to entertain rather than depress. They do this in an honest way and went so far as to seek advice from experienced specialists on the subject in order to craft the music. Even the cover art, with its strange, compelling and dark beauty is relevant as it shows the death mask of “L’Inconnue de la Seine”, (The Unknown Woman of the Seine) an unknown drowning victim from 1880s Paris.
Band members, Simen Valldal Johannessen on vocals, piano and keys, Øystein Sootholtet on bass, acoustic and electric guitars, Sigbjørn Reiakvam on drums, keys and guitars, and Stephan Hvinden on lead, rhythm and slide guitars combine their varied backgrounds into an almost cinematic soundtrack that always fascinates.
Take opener ‘Highest Tower, Deepest Well’: the gentle piano-led intro sets the scene for a weighty riff before the vocals lighten the feel but deepen the progressive sounds. ‘Quiet Rebellion’ brings an acoustic frame on which the band build, via harmony vocals, to a psalm-like heavy prog that just works.
The fourteen-minute epic, ‘Paperwings’ takes prog, electronica and rock and conjures a soundscape which creates an image (in my strange mind at least) of King Crimson in a pulpit. It’s a wide-ranging, mainly proggy masterpiece.
A difficult album to put into words but if you like your rock truly progressive, then this is a must-listen.
The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise is released on 11th November via Karisma Records