Oak – The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise

The last few months of 2022 really seem to be packed with strong new albums.  Oak is back after 5 years with their new album The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise, and I would include it in that group of strong releases.  It has really been resonating with me.  The album released on November 11th through Karisma Records.

Oak hail from Oslo, so look for that since there are a few bands with this name.  I was a big fan of 2018’s False Memory Archive, and even premiered an exclusive album stream for the band back then.  The band has grown by one member, the lineup now being Simen Valldal Johannessen on vocals and keys, Stephan Hvinden on guitars, Øystein Sootholtet on bass, and Sigbjørn Reiakvam on drums.

Oak is one of those bands that sounds a little different on each of their records.  They, in general, play a progressive rock/pop with plenty of gorgeous melodies and rocking moments.  They are band full of light and space, though, so don’t expect much in the way of distortion or edge.  They are melody-forward with a side of melancholy at times, forming rich and classy tones that are equally complex and accessible.  You’ll hear plenty of guitar and piano, as that forms the basis for their style.

This album is a little brighter than their previous, even though the subject matter of suicide and psychic health is decidedly darker and more sorrowful.  I think that is a good direction to take, though, since we already have enough sadness as it is.  The music here does not make me sad, but oddly hopeful.

The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise has two strengths that help grip my ears.  First, Simen has a great voice.  He sounds like a combination of other vocalists, all of whom are fantastic, none of whom I will name.  His timbre is luxurious and expressive.  Second, the instrumentals on this record are probably the band’s best to date.  There are some seriously infectious portions strewn throughout, and even the odd bit of harsh vox on one track climax that takes the song into completely new places for the band.

Each of the tracks is growing on me, I have to say.  The opener “Highest Tower, Deepest Well” is a superb track with some truly spectacular and yet also subtle strengths.  I love the groove and haunting vocal melodies they achieve on that one.  The single, “Dreamless Sleep”, is also a winner for its jazzy interlude, catchy chorus, and electronic trappings.  It has so much character.

My favorite songs are “Sunday 8 AM” and “Paperwings”.  The former is a spacious, percussion-heavy track with a hazy atmosphere and wonderful build up.  The payoff is pretty big with the saxophone.  The latter is a 14-minute centerpiece for the album.  “Paperwings” is one of the best tracks the band has ever produced because of how diverse and transitory it is.  The song has moments of ambience and slowburn, but also moments of glory and acoustic fire.  It builds up to a brief but effective wall of harsh vox near the end that takes the song to incredible heights.

Oak have a cautious and beauteous style, but The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise explores new ideas while still keeping the core of their sound intact.  It’s a strong album that doesn’t contain much filler at all, and Simen’s gracious vocals bring the whole thing together into a experience of understanding, serenity, and hope, despite the sadness.


Find Oak online:



Karisma Records


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