About a year ago, I came across nothing short of a unique, exciting, independent one-man music project, OENOS, on Bandcamp. The 8-track outing, “Musta III,” fresh out of the oven at the time, was a robust collection of wine-infused post-black metal with tertiary notes of atmospheric sludge. All the songs were written under the influence of various wines from around the world and named after the bottle. The concept was rather original, to say the very least. Now, the saga continues. A new batch of songs has fermented properly and Sami Tuohino, the metal viticulturist at the helm of this project, released a new OENOS outing, titled “Crno IV,” on October 1st, 2021, independently via Bandcamp. This time, the one-man mission to explore the world through wine and music takes the listener on a journey from the sun-kissed wineries of Spain and Chicago to Australia and South Africa. The music is layered with the black-metal-tinted tannins of Mazuelo, the atmospheric post-rock elegance of Tempranillo, as well as the earthy sludge grooves cultivated in vintage oak puncheons. I feel compelled to repeat what I wrote already a year ago: I have heard substantially less impressive stuff released via established metal labels.
The new 4-track release, named after a rustic, Slovenian wine, begins the journey with the 10-minute track, “Real Rubio,” referring to the Spanish wine of the same name. The sludgy guitar riffs traverse through a sonic landscape that is slightly reminiscent of “Eternal Kingdom”-era CULT OF LUNA and the earlier releases of the Tampere-based one-man post-metal project, CONSCIOUSNESS REMOVAL PROJECT. Maybe the feeling comes from the somewhat Slavic melancholy and the use of vintage Mellotron strings. There are certain things in life that are inherently meant to be together, like quality wines and extreme metal, and Mellotron pads just happen to go perfectly with post-metal-tinged sludge riffs. It’s a match made in heaven and it surely helps if the songcraft is of this caliber. The slow grind of the track lets the music breathe nicely, just like aerating wines by exposing them to air intensifies the flavor.
The following track, “Groundwork,” refers to a wine from Chicago, USA, while musically, the song cross-references the sludge riffing with subtle prog vibes reminiscent of the recent endeavors by ENSLAVED. The clean, grungey vocals, in particular, sound a lot more convincing than on the previous release. It begins to feel even more incredible that no label has yet signed this act. The only blemish in the song is the fact that, after the ten-minute opener, it feels a little short with its six minutes. OENOS has evolved quite a lot in the past twelve months and I must say that I really like the direction where the music is going.
The distorted bassline of “St Maur” flows forward like a stream of lava until, around the 2½-minute mark, the song explodes into a volcanic burst of dark energy. Once again, the clean vocals resonate with the distinct air of the 1990s grunge aesthetics. Referring to a wine of Australian origin, I’d say this is the perfect song for the oncoming winter; when the permafrost is gripping our very souls with its cold hands, we could snuggle up next to the speakers and blast this new OENOS offering with some comfort wine.
Things are brought to a close with the pedal-point-like Mellotron motif in “P.S. I Love You The Liberator,” referring to the South African wine. The song plays out like an extended coda of the previous track, “St Maur.” It builds upon the grungey vocals and punctuates the main motif with the occasional sludge moments. The wise men of Gotham have once said that one should always be drunk, that it is all that really matters. You could get drunk with wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose – but it is essential that you get drunk. The new 4-track EP, “Crno IV,” by OENOS is so consistently great that I’m sure it is, like a good wine high in antioxidants, good for your heart and soul. Wine may very well be the most civilized thing in the world but I’m guessing quality metal comes next. It is bottled poetry in a different cask, that’s all.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- Real Rubio
- St Maur
- P.S. I Love You The Liberator