I was introduced to Obsidian Kingdom in the live environment first, as via a recommendation from a friend, so encountered the Spaniards with a meagre crowd during the day at Bloodstock – I was completely entranced and blown away.
An expansive mix of complex progressive post-metal interspersed occasionally with icily precise blasting black metal, they were a hypnotic experience that was all the more impressive in capturing the attention in that environment. I was naturally keen to acquire some recorded material, and discovered that not only had they self-released this concept album previously (plus an album or remixes of it), but now it had been picked up for a wider reissue by Seasons of Mist.
Definitely seems they are getting attention they deserve. While I am very keen on post-metal stylings, out and out prog is something that leaves me a bit cold, much more into straightforward impact than virtuoso guitar displays, so credit is due to them for extending my tolerances as their intricate mellower passages have almost classical leanings or could pass for Pink Floyd atmospherics, but then again similar extrapolations from the psychedelic into the heaviness were undertaken by Voivod who I also have much love for.
Another point of reference would be some of the latter works of Enslaved or Cult of Luna, those that retain a heavy core but drift in epic atmospheric spaces. The keyboards are a major factor in linking the variety of styles within their structures; their brooding presence in the intro piece has an almost cinematic quality, and they at other times have a NIN vibe that colours both the slow and then adds an abstract edge to the more violent faster passages.
The sung vocals descend into harsh, cathartic growled lines, individual songs such as ‘Last of the Light’ run the whole gamut of the experience, book-ended by brutality with a lengthily drawn out blissful workout in the middle. Testament to their song-writing skills the album seems to pass relatively quickly and the constantly changing diverse structures sweep the listener along. Perhaps I am still a little unsure of how the balance between the styles is fully to my tastes, and it is also interesting to reflect that if I’d heard this recording first I might not have been won over as much I was with the live experience.
All in all, this is definitely a challenging and interesting album and worth checking out, especially if they are progressing on to bigger and better things. Also catch them at Damnation Festival in Leeds this November.