Obsequiae, a duo black and bold
Crafting melodies from cent’ries of old
The mists of time unfurl and flicker past
And echoed rasps begin their –
Eh, enough of that. Writing a review in iambic pentameter is damn near impossible.
These guys do a much better job with the medieval slant on their craft. Minneapolis’ Obsequiae play a highly stylish, melodic take on black metal that sounds like it’s drifting through some cosmic space portal from Ye Olde Original Renaissance Faire. Except it’s not cheesy, and there are no prancing LARPers, pewter dragon swords or giant turkey legs. From the first cycling strains of “Altars of Moss,” Obsequiae bewitch you into a state of genuine fantasy bliss. It’s a simple concept – marry black metal to traditional medieval melodies – and man, do they pull it off right from the start.
Of course, other bands have flirted with this execution before – Summoning’s Middle-Earth-meets-Middle-Ages stomp being the most obvious answer. However, much as I have fond memories of re-reading The Lord of the Rings while Dol Guldur and Minas Morgul played on repeat, those albums were far simpler listens, and more apt to become background music. They relied more heavily on repeating, rolling melodies over martial percussion; a lulling accompaniment to long treks from there and back again.
Obsequiae, on the other hand, crafts a far more intricate experience. These songs don’t just sound composed – they sound woven, like fine tapestries only recently uncovered in some mouldering vault. Elegant melodies unfurl on each track – some as rumbling, churning mid-paced black metal, and others, like the lovely “Sidhe” or the nimble thrum of “Wildes Heer,” as acoustic medieval folk hymnals. There’s even an appropriate touch of lumbering doom on the title track and “The Wounded Fox.” Each track features a unique structure and an intelligent, purposeful use of cycling, dual harmonies twisting into and around each other. Combine that unique compositional sensibility with a steady pace (even when things seem frantic), playful percussion and expressive rasps, and you have a black metal experience that’s nothing short of hypnotic.
I’m no expert on medieval composition, but it seems like Obsequiae conducted some serious study, and then ably translated those findings to a palette you’d expect to hear from a Dissection or Abigor album. I’ve done my best to describe it, but you really need to hear it for yourself.
Another fine addition to Bindrune Recordings’ already-impressive roster (Wodensthrone, Falls of Rauros, Blood of the Black Owl) of bracing, atmospheric and iconoclastic black metal, and a worthy purchase for connoisseurs and the curious alike.[Visit the band's website]