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“I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I cannot recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.”

-Charles Whitman

On August 1, 1966, after killing his wife and mother, US Marine veteran and engineering student Charles Whitman climbed the Tower at the University of Texas at Austin and, over a 90 minute period, shot wildly from the 28th floor window, leaving 14 dead and 32 wounded including Whitman himself. It was discovered during his autopsy that Whitman had a small tumor in his brain which was initially dismissed, but later the Connally Commission would deem the pressure the tumor put on this father and student's amygdala to be the cause for this murderous rampage. If something as random and unforgiving (and, reportedly, the size of a pecan) can drive someone to murder, what does it say about our control over our actions? Free will is supposed to set man apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, but is that really the case?

Returning with his second full-length, All Too Human, Oskoreien meditates on both Charles Whitman's story and the philosophical and ethical impact it holds on mankind. Following the sense of depersonalization felt by Whitman in opening track "Maoi," sole musician Jay Valena digs deep into this tragic historic figure's mounting hatred in "Green & Maroon". Set in the sullen, mid-paced tones of black/doom plod, "Green & Maroon"'s escalating tension and concealed melodies paint a desperate picture of a man clearly on the brink. "My disgust and pity grow with the passing of time, each heartbeat a pulse of hatred," Valena shrieks above his despairing backdrop, a more throaty, human howl than black metal's more demonic carriage, befitting the more human subject matter. Eventually moving into more a more dynamic range, which I suppose one could compare to "post-rock," the suddenly cinematic scope offers an alternate take to Whitman's madness, transforming his anger into forlorn woe. As radiant and pristine as this music is, there is a sudden, undeniable sadness which envelops the song as a whole. If we are to believe the findings of the Connally Commission to be true, Whitman was no longer a person at this point. He might as well have already been dead, and the crestfallen turn in sound is Valena mourning Whitman as a synechdoche for our concept of free will. Without free will, how can we truly define what motivates us? Do we really care? Do we even love? Maybe we are really alone.

Oskoreien's All Too Human will be released digitally and on cassette through the band's Bandcamp page on December 2nd. See below for an exclusive first listen of "Green & Maroon". Learn more about the victims of Charles Whitman here.

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