The Palms of Sorrowed Kings

I am new to the Obsequiae hype train and after my good buddy Graham, from Deepsend Records-RIP, recommended this album to me, I could not be more than happier with his recommendation.  Under this name the band has been around for over a decade and released Suspended in the Brume of Eos in 2011 and Aria of Vernal Tombs in 2015.

With each album the band has progressed, became more musically diverse and all around better song writers.  The first 2 albums are most excellent and this trend has continued with their finest release to date, The Palms of Sorrowed Kings.  Tanner Anderson is listed as playing:  Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Hurdy gurdy, Hammered dulcimer, Bowed psaltery, Mizhar, Zill.  Vicente La Camera Mariño is listed as playing the medieval harp and Eoghan McCloskey is on drums.  The area of origin is Minneapolis, Minnesota, however the harpist is from Spain.

So you want a description of Obsequiae??  Well, here goes.  Imagine you’re sitting on an elevated meadow, by the countryside.  In your right hand is your Sir Lancelot shining sword and your left hand has a goblet of Meade that you’re swilling to no end.   Your horse is next to you grazing on the meadow as you overlook your kingdom.  Your castle in the forefront and the hills and body of water surrounding your lush landscape.  You’re thinking of the latest battle where your armored covered brethren fought valiantly and slayed brutal armies and beasts and now you’re in a tranquil and spirited place as you think about what worked and what could be made better……

Yeah, I can go and on with this story.  Obsequiae combine some medieval/melodic/atmospherics, as well as balls to the wall brutal black metal music, alongside some power and classic heavy metal moments.  The result, from what Graham has said is a genre I was not aware of – Dungeon Metal.  It’s an interesting tag, but really fits well with the band.

“L’autrier m’en aloie” opens this 12 song 50” album with some interesting instrumentation and this is the perfect instrumental intro before “Ceres in Emerald Streams” comes in with an outrageous guitar melody screaming of almost something off Awaken the Guardian-one of the best metal/power albums ever.  Then the black metal inspired/Bathory-Quorthon influenced vocals come in and the guitar melodies and atmosphere are certain soundscapes that are beyond mind-blowing.  The pacing has a Bathory Hammerheart speed.  Slow, deliberate, yet heavy and melodic.  The speed picks up with some power metal speeds and black metal vocals over the part and then the guitar solo is a thing of pure beauty.  The main guitar riff returns, which again is one of the best pure metal riffs I have heard in a long time.  Then the speed and blast beats come in to throttle the dragon’s head from it’s ginormous and lifeless body.  Throughout the album there are other interludes/instrumentals and “Palästinalied” comes in and is beautiful with the variety of sounds and after about 3 minutes this goes right into The Palms of Sorrowed Kings title track.  I digress for a moment to say Obsequiae is great at fitting in a lot of memorable moments in every song and realize they do not need to do it in 12” epic numbers.  The average length is a bit over 4 minutes, when you do simple math.

The title track is the first song I heard from this album and I was an instant believer.  I thought the opening song was great, but this title track opening riff is one of the most emotive and mind-blowing moments in metal, in the last 20 years, IMO.  And I have heard almost every damn riff out there.  The riff continues, alongside some excellent double bass, drum rolls as the black metal vocals come in pained and anguished moments.  All along the guitar melody creating gorgeous and lush landscapes of pure medieval metal.  Excellent melodies over the double bass and then the speed picking up pace until the blast with the perfect sounds over the blast with an awesome growl and solo over the beginning moment.  The title track is magnificent.  I love the excellent choral vocal chants in the background as well, towards the end.  Intense and epic.  “Quant voi la flor novele” is another interesting interlude instrumental and all these moments work excellent, wedged between a bunch of the songs and this is right before the 6+ minute

“Emanations Before the Pythia”.  Creating more emotive and atmospheric soundscapes this tune is slower in nature before the vocals come in over the melodic and classic metal-inspired guitar riffs.  Nice melodies over the double bass and more pained and anguished vocals.  The song gradually building up to a more epic crescendo, before coming back down and then picking up some more speed and excellent guitar solos swirl all over the place.  The song ends and then another closing instrumental to bring a close to one of the best metal albums I have heard in the last 20 years, maybe even 30 years.

The Palms of Sorrowed Kings is excellently produced and therefore all the nuances of the vocals and various instruments are on full display and blend and weave perfectly, especially with the varying metal genres all colliding together.  Obsequiae are a brilliant band-no doubt.  I have urged their label to get those first 2 albums back in print and since 20 Buck Spin released the second album that will happen first.

All the Obsequiae albums are excellent and The Palms of Sorrowed Kings is their finest chapter to date.  Immersive, brilliant, captivating, interesting, melodic, atmospheric, beautiful and brutal-this needs to be in your collection now, if you claim to love Heavy Metal.  One of the highlights for 2019.  Buy or Die!!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
December 24th, 2019


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