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The Oracle blend doom and black metal styles

The Oracle from Maryland brings the collective musical influence and experience of four well-established performers to create something unique that they hope will challenge the elitist attitudes of all the metal subgenres they meld together. It's a little bit sludge, a little bit doom, a little bit black metal and maybe even a little bit crust.

The Oracle are Maryland's latest edition to the doom scene with definite overtones of black metal and even crust.
The Oracle are Maryland's latest edition to the doom scene with definite overtones of black metal and even crust. Mary Spiro

The Metallomusikum podcast team (Derek Beam, Jason Waldmann, and I) met with The Oracle this week at Midtown BBQ and Brew for a chat about their first few shows together as a band. The Oracle is James Haun (guitar/vocals), Russ Strahan (guitar), Ron McGinnis (bass/vocals) and Ben Proudman (drums). James (ex- Sourvein, ex- Ol' Scratch), Russ (ex-Pentagram), Ron (Pale Divine, Admiral Browning, Trilogy) and Ben (Rhin) collectively bring decades of experience to this new project. This is evident in the music they produce which fairly defies neat classification.

In performance, The Oracle produce a ferocious wall of sound. James presents a formidable lead vocalist both in height and aggression. Russ lends a quiet class --he even started the set wearing a top hat -- demonstrating his well-earned reputation as one of metal's most skilled and soulful guitarists. Ben lays down a solid foundation that sets the pace for every song, shifting from doom-y drone to black metal blast beat at any moment. Ron, plucking his signature six string bass, also offers strong supporting vocals to counter James and rounds out the profoundly heavy rhythm section.

For me at least, despite the fact that the music drinks deeply from black metal's chalice of blood, the tunes remain mostly in the sludge/doom camp. You can get an idea what the band sounds like on their demo "Veiled Oblivion" but that recording features the vocals and bass-work Helena Goldberg (Akris), who left The Oracle after nearly two years of songwriting, to raise a family. The latest incarnation should be experienced live.

Listen to the podcast here.

Check out a gallery of photos from the March 8 show at the Sidebar. PS. Happy Birthday Sidebar owner, Travis Hunt.