Enthroned: Obsidium

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Enthroned: Obsidium
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Enthroned: Obsidium
Black Metal
Agonia Records
March 20th, 2012
Release length: 41:31
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Enthroned have found a new home with Agonia Records to issue their ninth full-length album, Obsidium. This release follows up on their 2010 effort through Regain Records, Pentagrammaton, which was met with plenty of positive press and fan reaction. It seems that, for a group with no remaining original members, the satanic spirit still thrives just as strong as before. But, is it only a matter of time before the initial entity of Enthroned is lost because of this, and could Obsidium be the departure?

Obsidium unfortunately has an audio quality that is pretty hard to get into at first, but does grow on you. The whole tone of the album sounds foggy and restrained. The instruments still come through pretty sharp and crisp, and immediatly you might think it’s just the guitar distortion, but you can pick up on that same filmy residue outside of it, as if lost in a nightmarish haze, but often never recognized as an intentional atmosphere by the music. The guitars still retain a sharpened edge with a louder volume that does drown out the bass a little more than they should, leaving less of an obvious impact from it in the final product. The snares sound thick and loud, matching the levels of the clear cymbal crashes and click of the bass kicks. The vocals have a nice mixture of a deeper rasp that often treads the line of a guttural performance, and is just loud enough that it stands out above all the instruments with a nice echo effect that often feeds into the muggy tone of the music.

While the audio may be rather hazy, it doesn’t stop the band from really weaving a chaotic, sinister Black Metal creation. “Sepulchred Within Opaque Slumber” establishes a nice atmosphere through it’s ambient introduction, lasting just under twenty seconds before the cymbals come in to welcome the tracks venomous blackened sound. The drums hammer away with a commanding, marching approach, making up the main verses against a chorus and plenty of bridges that hold a creepy, sinister atmosphere. These also slow the tempo down at times, such as around the halfway point when the music shifts into a crawling pace, allowing only the guitar to feed the environment for a brief period of time as it builds back up slowly into a catchy ritualistic performance, musically and vocally. This track definitely gets you in the mood for the release, but it’s “Nonus Sacramentvm – Obsidium” that completes your understanding. The chords have a deeper feel to them, and come off more astral than anything, as if a projection of yourself through the music. It feeds into the tone of the quality, but only for a short time before hammering into blast beat fueled Black Metal chaos.

Sadly, the aforementioned passages that seem to take advantage of the audio quality are minimal, especially in that track. For the most part, the album takes the aggressive approach. “Oblivious Shades” doesn’t really fit into the atmospheric vibe that “Nonus Sacramentvm – Obsidium” has at times, but overall ends up an interesting, and somewhat unique track. Again, the listener is given a slow, ambient introduction, lasting just over twenty seconds this time, before The music kicks in with a slightly faster pace. Some haunting guitar chords enter to allow the bass kicks of the drum kit to stand out. When the vocals kick in, the bands greets you with a mid-tempo Black Metal offering that is more traditional in foundation, really focusing on the drumming more than the guitars. It does pick up speed now and again, but for the most part still retains that creepy tone the medium pace has throughout the rest of the song. The track itself lasts nearly several minutes, and thanks to these subtle changes among the fluid passages and energetic vocal performance, as well as the larger bridges of slower material with atmospheric effects utilized, it keeps the listener content the entire ride. While not of the same length, “Thy Blight Vacuum” definitely stands out in a similar manner. It never really goes past the mid-tempo range, though often slows down greatly and has plenty of spoken word passages that are clearly expressed in a ritualistic/worshipping manner. It makes for a superb way to close out of the release as well, and still has plenty of catchy passages that sink their hooks right you.

While longing for more songs to take advantage of the production quality leaves you feeling a little let down, there are still some excellent cuts here that any fans of the style simply must hear. “Deathmoor” is a faster track that really caters to the modern blast beat driven sound with blistering machine gun-like bass kicks throughout most of the bridges. The song doesn’t really boast that unique an experience, but some of the chords really become infectious at times. Enthroned go straight for the throat and rarely give up time for you to breathe for the first half outside one three second gap. After that point, the song heads straight into a commanding presence with kicks and bass chords making you feel as if your standing out of line in some kind of death march, pushing you to join in before the chaos ensues once more. “Petraolevm Salvia” is another one well worth checking out thanks to the superb mixture of aggression with a ritualistic Black Metal. The song becomes overwhelming due to it, but still sports a catchy rhythm that harkens back to the early second wave Black Metal style you cannot help but be moved by. The infectious melodic chords that hit at times, and the fantastic guitar solo, really pull the listener in and make head banging along to the pounding fury of the main verses a mandate, especially when the fury picks up closer to the end and all hell breaks loose in the most auditory of fashions.

Obsidium definitely has an audio quality to it that could have gone either way. Enthroned didn’t really capitalize on the hazy, restrained sound of the music as much as they really could have. Instead, the go the other route of having a venomous, aggressive music that often is mixed with a commanding, ritualistic foundation. Even with the restrained sound of the music, this album is another superb Black Metal offering that brings in a great deal of variety to the listener, further establishing the bands identity a lot stronger compared to recent efforts. While Obsidium is far from the band’s best offering, tach track offers plenty to come back to beyond the initial spin, making it an album well worth being at or near the top of your list the next time you’re looking for a new album, especially for Enthroned fans.

01. Sepulchred Within Opaque Slumber – 3:56
02. Nonus Sacramentvm – Obsidium – 4:16
03. Horns Aflame – 4:30
04. Deathmoor – 3:49
05. Oblivious Shades – 6:44
06. The Final Architect – 4:37
07. Petraolevm Salvia – 4:05
08. Oracle ov Void – 3:59
09. Thy Blight Vacuum – 4:37
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Enthroned
Enthroned

Digital review copy of this release provided by Agonia Records.