Posted by Nick Skog on Thursday, September 19, 2013 Under: Album Reviews
From: Ave Noctum Webzine
Published: September 18, 2013
Not the catchiest of names or titles I’ll grant you but one I would urge you to remember as if there’s any justice, you’ll be hearing it a lot more over the next 12-18 months. I was introduced to this Massachusetts-based duo courtesy of their fiery performance at 2012’s ‘Winter is Coming’ festival in Connecticut and was immediately struck by the power of their set. For a two-piece (Vocalist/Guitarist Brendan Hayter and sticksman Greg Murphy) they created a captivating racket, dense guitars and thunderous percussion dominating the room. More than this though, there was a subtlety underpinning the churning fury which added real depth to the soundscape.
Having mentally identified them as ‘one to watch’, I was keen to see if the duo’s impressive live showing would retain its identity when committed to tape. Happily, ‘A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time’ demonstrates that their live showing is no mere fluke. Across the album’s six tracks, Obsidian Tongue demonstrate a deep understanding of how to deliver an album of first-rate atmospheric black metal.
Notice I’ve sidestepped the old ‘post black metal’ trope, primarily because this is something the band manage to do also – sure, there are several sonic signposts here that doff the cap to the established colossi of this scene – but Obsidian Tongue have managed to very much stamp their own identity onto this increasingly well-worn subgenre.
Theirs is a darker approach – the guitars lower-tuned, churning, the drums almost tribal in their relentless, rolling quality. Sure, opener ‘Brothers in the Stars’ is reminiscent of Wolves in the Throne Room but there’s something more refined and subtle about Hayter’s riffs that elevate it above mere homage. The production too is quite unique – the guitars are very dark, the vocals rasped and distant – lending the record an atmosphere of convincingly grim obscurity bereft of lo-fi ‘necro’ pretensions.
Ideas and dynamics flow throughout the album. ‘Black Hole in Human Form’ stops and starts, percussion juddering insistently whilst ‘My Hands Were Made to Hold the Wind’ boasts an infectious wah-drenched lead guitar refrain and a galloping feel that has more than a whiff of ‘Pale Folklore’-era Agalloch about it. Speaking of which, the distinct vocal tones of that band’s John Haughm can be heard lending some sepulchral sounds to the album’s title track and closing piece. It’s a curious finale, ethereal and muted but somehow fitting – it leaves the album on a questing, almost unfinished note which (given that this is the second part of a trilogy) is entirely appropriate.
There’s little to fault here really – ‘A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time’ is a confident, textured opus of atmospheric black metal that deserves attention. As great chunks of the whole ‘post’ black metal scene teeter in danger of becoming a somewhat whimsical, ephemeral parody of itself, this duo have delivered something of real substance which is to be commended.
Reviewed by: Frank Allain
In : Album Reviews
Tags: obsidian tongue nest of ravens throat of time atmospheric primal prganic black metal massachusetts john haughm agalloch subradiant architecture autolatry alda panopticon falls of rauros