Released: 2016, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The Obscene Rite marks the conclusion of a conceptual trilogy from Veilburner, and follows closely on the heels of its two previous chapters. The dastardly duo of vocalist Chrisom Infernium and instrumentalist Mephisto Deleterio – who hail from the dark depths of, umm, the Philadelphia area - offered the opening installment, The Three Lightbearers, in 2014 and the second, Noumenon, a year later.
As you might imagine, this is some pretty complicated, involved stuff. Indeed, the lyrical theme of the trilogy, according to the band's bio, is trans-humanism, with the albums based on characters who are “sick of their mortal existence and its limitations, and obsessed with finding a way to transform or evolve beyond it.” Which sounds like as plausible explanation as any, given that the band don't offer many clues with arcane titles like “Necroquantum Plague Asylum,” “Eucharist Of The Breathing Abyss” or “Baphometic Catalyst.” Chrisom Infernium's breathy, raspy, mumbly delivery recalls Mayhem vocalist/eccentric Attila Csihar, and can be as equally impenetrable, so there's that too.
But they are an effective, even compelling accompaniment for the unconventional – and sometimes just downright bizarre - scores Mephisto Deleterio has composed. The Obscene Rite echoes Mayhem's Grand Declaration of War – which, ironically, Csihar was not a part of – or experimentalists like Deathspell Omega in its wildly progressive, almost free-form, anything goes take on black metal.
Its tornadic, ever-shifting time signatures; elliptical, frantic, almost jangly guitaring; limber, jazz-like bottom end; and penchant for curious tangents make for quite a musical shitstorm, but it definitely grabs your attention. And holds it as well as you wonder might come next – like the Western twang meets electronic throb meets tech-death pummel of “Dilemma Manifestation;” the cheesy horror-film synths, acoustic guitars and serene harmony leads of the instrumental “Masquerable Macabre;” the alien, theremin-like sound effects and industrial clamor that flavor the otherwise blast-furnace black metal of “Baphometic Catalyst;” the clean vocal harmonies that introduce “In The Revelations Of Bloodstained Void;” or the Marilyn Manson-like techno-metal throb of “Phainops.”
But kudos to Veilburner for making it not only work, but somehow make some sort of sense – although “Phainops” is a bit of an underwhelming finale. The Obscene Rite never seems like some Frankenstein's monster-like collection of parts all sewn together – or a couple guys getting their prog on because there aren't other band members around to tell them to knock it off. Sure the songs are all rather long, averaging about seven minutes each, but they rarely seem indulgent. Though there is a lot going on, it nearly always seems necessary. And for all of its quirks, and mystifying story line, Rite is an utterly fascinating work.