Reviewed: August 2019
Released: 2019 Bindrune Recordings
By Obsidian Tongue’s own account, six years is a long time in the world of metal and music. This is how long it’s been since the band last put out a collection of songs. They acknowledge, with no shortage of solemnity, that during this time, “we may relocate. Get married/divorced. Bring life into this world. Bury our loved ones… Six years can see a lot of change and a growth in the hearts of men. Though we may not notice it, life takes flight the older we get.”
More than half a decade since the band’s last album (The Nest Of Ravens In The Throat Of Time), Obsidian Tongue’s central figure, Brendan James Hayter has seemingly undergone a mountain of change, both in his personal life and within the structure of the band. Significantly, he has forged a musical partnership with Raymond Capizzo (Falls of Rauros) who he describes as having brought new rhythmic and compositional developments to OT’s sound.
The band summarise their collaboration by stating how they have been “feeding off of each other with colorfully rich textures and highly emotive riff work that empowers, and possesses the power to inject melancholy into the listeners life by way of beauty and innovation.”
To be honest, it would be easy to write such statements off as esoteric hyperbole, if only the music didn’t live up to such an abstruse description.
Getting to the point; the unassumingly named Volume III is an album that sits impressively and deservedly among those records that just seem effortlessly complete. If the measure of a great artistic accomplishment can be contained in the answer to the question, “what would I have done differently?”, then Volume III passes this test, in as far as I can’t find a note out of place or a badly executed idea among the five songs presented here.
Embellishing their blackened metal with melancholy, gothic passages, classical flourishes and melodic lines, there isn’t a moment where the musicians can’t demonstrate complete commitment to the part. Opening track Anatkh manages to contain more musical ideas than some bands can manage on an entire album. They merge melodic doom with a hurricane of blackened turmoil and still find time to flirt around the borders of progressive jazz and rock. Whether its intentional or not… it’s impressive stuff.
Looking for a musical comparison, I find myself making the hop across the genre pools to highlight the death metal band Akercocke. Another group of musicians who can pull from multiple influences and incorporate musical ideas with complete credibility.
On Volume III, Obsidian Tongue crescendo from the aggressive battery of Poison Green Dream to the soaring majesty of Return To The Fields Of Violet without it ever seeming anything less than organic. And where you might expect them to drop the ball on the melancholy piano piece Coda – Child In Ice, instead, we are given a sincere and emotive solo performance that carries just as much weight as the band at full flight.
In many ways, the rich tapestry of ideas on Volume III completely justifies the six years that fans have had to wait. There’s no way of knowing if there will be another extended span of time before the next release… or what will have occurred in our own lives during that time.
But at least we will have had a great soundtrack.