EP Review: Olēka – “Driftwood” (Melodic Death Metal)

Written by Valkyrjiaa

> Melodic death/groove metal
> British Columbia, Canada
> Released January 20 (digital)
> WormHoleDeath Records

With influences from southern groove metal and melodic death, it’s no surprise Olēka hits with a myriad of twists, turns, and cliff-falls. Creating what would later become the EP Driftwood in 2019, Aaron Reurink culminated the harsh truths of addiction, loss, and the realities that come with such challenges. Joining Aaron‘s vocal and guitar work is Byron Shuflita on drums, aiding in the flawless expression and execution of this EP. From dead drops of atmospheric shift to unyielding musical heaviness, this 4-track EP quickly ensnares.

“Two Years” kicks off the EP with a mess of distortion and heavy riff work. It’s conflicting yet mesmerizing as it quickly develops into a track of emotional weight and raw passion. The contrasting music backs a vomit of emotions; the counting of days that drops quickly into an illuminated facade of peace and tranquility. Pulled up by the undiluted guitars and distorted noise, the beat kicks in once more, perfectly encapsulating this track’s bludgeoning strength, bringing it to a bittersweet end.

Following up on similar footing is “The Manufactured Truth”, a three-minute track that holds raw vocals, and tight drum work to keep the ferocity from yielding. The breakdown on this track goes in deep, dragging you out before developing into a nightmarish haze of heated drums and sludge-like strong work. A quick track, but one that gets listeners head-banging along as they’re completely enveloped in its melody and message.

“Pulse” comes in a bit more suspiciously, with a quiet but intense vibe that in an instant slaps you in the mouth. An endless ritual of addiction, copying with the bottle, always searching for another drink. “I draw breath but, I don’t feel alive” is a line that comes with a heavy burden, just as this song’s reality does. The most captivating track on the EP, this one truly moves melodic and groove to give a trance-like state to the melody while consistently twisting the beats to layer on the difficulties and emotions being faced.

The fourth and final track, “Dead Echoes”, goes expectedly hard and seems to synchronize with the EP as a whole to bring beginning and end to a fiery halt. It’s got the groovy riffs, the melodic tune, and the twists that kept me on edge. I didn’t truly know whether to expect a breakdown, drop, or a complete pause which really lured me into this album completely, and this song embodies that. The solo on this track is mystifying as it goes for metal tradition yet holds the experimental groove metal undertones that really lingered long beyond its end.

The Bottom Line

Olēka holds a peculiar sound, one that’s strangely familiar but completely out of reach. Driftwood is short and precise, and perfectly executes the emotions and messages involved. With a simple goal to remain true to the music and metal community they so deeply love, Olēka not only strives to express and progress but does so capably. With every track interrelated yet twisting in new, unexpected directions, this is an EP that can be listened to again and again for further exploration of its depths, or to be enjoyed for its brutality, plain and simple.