Ophidian I
Desolate

Fuck.

So back in February, I swore that Ominous Ruin‘s Amid Voices That Echo in Stone would be the tech death album of the year. Then shortly after that, Stortgren’s Impermanence was definitely going to take that mantle. But then Hannes Grossman dropped To Where the Light Retreats, earlier this summer, and THAT album was for sure going to the tech death album of the year.

Well, in the last few weeks, everything got even more crowded atop the tech death album of the year rankings, with Obscura releasing a killer single from their upcoming Solaris album, then Iceland’s long dormant Ophidian I dropped the single “Diamonds” from this reunion album Desolate, and THAT fucking slayed. And then First Fragment (whose Dasein was my top ranked album of 2016) revealed they had a new album coming out, and dropped a killer single from that also.

Fuck!!!

It’s been almost a decade since Ophidian I dropped their first album, Solvet Saeclum, a solid entry into a crowded tech death field in late 2012/ early 2013. They disappeared off the map for a while with fellow Icelanders, Beneath (with whom Ophidian I once shared members) kind of taking the Icelandic tech death thunder in the interim, with a couple of solid albums. But Ophidian I is back, with a slightly tweaked line up, and boy are they back in a big fucking way.

Where Solvet Saeclum was solid, it was a standard, busy, brutal, tech death album. However, Desolate is a different beast all together. Now with a much heavier emphasis on hyper melodic leads and classically inspired riffs akin to the likes of Gorod (on steroids mind you) and the aforementioned  First Fragment, Ophidian I has entered into rare, truly elite territory a mere two albums into their discography, and Desolate comes really close to being one of those classic, genre defining, game changing albums. It’s THAT Good.

“Diamonds” opens the affair, and it will leave you breathless with its sheer shredding intensity, immediately letting you know the bands new melodic direction. You will listen to this song over and over trust me, but push forward and check out the other 9 tracks, as it somehow just keeps getting better and better, and more shredding and more melodic. There’s the harmonic, Gorod -like, playful stomps in “Spiral to Oblivion”, utterly insane tech death blasts (drummer Ragnar Sverrisson delivers arguably the best drum performance of the year so far on this album) of “Storm Aglow” and  fucking crazy “Unfurling the Crescent Moon”. And that’s the first 4 tracks alone.

“Sequential Descent”, has some just insanely cool leads, while “Captive Infinity” provides a short flamenco respite to the insanity for a few bars before exploding in to a vicious tech death vortex of stunning proportions. And by track 8, “Dominion Eyes”, you’d think you would tire of the non stop blistering antics, but it never gets old or repetitive, every track is killer (late track “Jupiter” is another standout). And what makes the album so good is the tracks are all shorter, 3-4 ish minute stabs of digestible brilliance that all deliver the goods, there’s no ambitious wandering tracks or atmospherics. The only thing that’s ‘normal’ about the album is the pretty standard tech death metal vocals of new vocalist John Olgeirsson, which is fine as it leaves the music the focal point.

Desolate is absolutely fucking incredible, and unless First Fragment and Obscura bring something that’s just a game changing, Desolate is going to be the tech death album of the year, if not possibly THE album of the year.

Possibly.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 19th, 2021

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    This is really great. Well said.


  2. Commented by: Indignant_N00b

    Archspire also has a new one on the way. I hear a ton of “Flesh Prevails” era Fallujah to “Diamonds”


  3. Commented by: David S

    I’ve been following your reviews for years and knew there was something special if you’re saying it is…awesome stuff, this sounds like if Kiko Loureiro did an intense tech death record. Will promise to listen to it all!


  4. Commented by: Shawn

    I was completely underwhelmed by this. I’m not saying its bad. It just sounds like a computer wrote and composed it. Nothing about feels or sounds real. It’s to clean and way to plastic.


  5. Commented by: Ben

    I was stunned by this. I’d added it to my Apple Music library immediately after hearing the embedded track. What really blew me away was while I was listening to it last night my wife said she really liked it and could see herself listening to it and all she listens to is folk music and classic rock.


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