Sacramento’s Bog Oak has only been together for about a year and a half, but you’d never guess by listening to their first EP, A Treatise on Resurrection and The Afterlife. Their songs exhibit a mature sense of structure, and each track directly feeds into the next, which are both rare in the realm of crusty doom. As you’d guess from their name, Bog Oak’s sound intimately connects to the natural world. If Kylesa channeled the fierce environmentalism of Wolves in the Throne Room, the result would sound pretty damn close to Bog Oak.
I’ve been listening to their EP on my commute from Fresno to Visalia, a forty-five minute drive through the drought-stricken Central Valley. Massive tracts of farmland sprawl between sporadically placed shopping centers and gas stations, over all of which looms a veil of chemical filth. But you can faintly see rolling mountains through the smog. A Treatise on Resurrection and The Afterlife is the perfect soundtrack for this drive.
The EP begins with “The Science of The Afterlife,” a seven-minute sonic bludgeoning that features mid-paced, Entombed-style riffage alongside more traditional doom. Julie Seymour mixes masochistic screams and eerie clean vocals on this track and throughout the rest of the EP. When she transitions from harsh to melodic, I feel like I often do when I drive from Fresno to Sequoia National Park: breathing in the mountain air, you suddenly realize how filthy the air is in the Central Valley.
Throughout “The Resurrection of Animals” and “Time Drift of Seasons,” Phillip Gallagher’s earthen riffs envelop your brain — an effect that’s intensified by Steve Campbell’s technically masterful, drag-beat drumming. The five minute dirge, “A Sea Without Shore,” closes out the EP. During the final section, Julie Seymour repeats “The ocean, distorted/ my only departed” in the midst of torturous sludge — lyrics that mourn humans’ once healthy relationship with nature, becoming especially poignant in a place that simultaneously depends upon communing with and destroying our natural surroundings through the system of industrial agriculture.
If A Treatise… is any indication, Bog Oak is going to grow into a doom monolith.