Obelyskkh: White Lightnin’

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Obelyskkh: White Lightnin’
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Obelyskkh: White Lightnin'
Drone, Psychadelic Doom Metal, Stoner Metal
Exile on Mainstream Records
October 16th, 2012
Release length: 1:03:20
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Germany’s Obelyskkh are back for another round of Psychadelic Doom and Stoner Metal. Formed back in 2008, the group issued their debut full-length, Mount Nysa, through Droehnhaus Records, a label with only that release to it’s name, and is probably a manufactured one by the group. Either way, it seemed to be enough to attract the attention of the growing underground powerhouse Exile on Mainstream Records, who picked them up to release their follow-up album, White Lightnin’. But, is this recording one that will devastate the underground, or is it just not enough to capture fans of either approach?

White Lightnin’ is definitely a mixed bag when it comes to the audio quality of the album. While it is still pretty heavy thanks to the rich and loud bass guitar, it doesn’t quite have that strong an impact to cater to the Psychadelic and Stoner Metal elements everywhere else. The guitars have a typical loud buzzing associated with the Stoner Metal genre, as well as varied cleaner sounds for rhythm or lead chords. Outside that, they are incredibly bland with a mild mid-range sound. The vocals are your typical harsher shouting, as well as some nasal clean singing that isn’t too enthusiastic. Finally there’s the drum kit, which is decent, but nothing too jaw-dropping. The cymbals come through loud and clear, the snares vary but seem to have an overall lower tone to them with a nice echo that works for the Psychadelic aspects, and a good click to the bass kick that is very noticeable, carrying a similar echo as the snares, but all around never too overbearing on the rest of the instruments.

For the most part, White Lightnin’ sounds alright, but only in certain ways. For example, “The Enochian Keys.” isn’t bad, but the music just doesn’t benefit from such a deep sound. After the gradual build of the intro, the music shifts to a Droning pace in a very subtle manner, not capitalizing on that established progression in any way. The chords are simply boring, and the leads that appear over it do help to make the mid-tempo pace a little more engaging here and there. “Elegy” takes advantage of the deeper audio a lot better thanks to a very enthusiastic performance that creates a far richer sound. Even the drumming seems tighter and more dominant at times. However, towards the end, the snares and bass kicks are really the only things that stand out as the pace slows down, and it seems as if the power the instruments had in the few minutes prior turns into a muffled Droning with plenty of empty gaps. It continues as clean chords usher in a creepy Hitchockian atmosphere. Unfortunately, it never really grabs you again, just gradually becoming more open, and even annoying with the obnoxiously loud and long guitar feedback.

However, “Mount Nysa” is a superb offering all together. The slower nature of the music is complimented well by the heavier and deeper sound, pushing the additional distortion on the guitars a lot further than it would go on other songs. The subtle harmonization in the clean singing gives the performance a bit of a ritualistic vibe, and the layered background singing and screaming adds some extra bite. Around the four minute mark, things creep into a crushing, dismal Doom Metal pace full of heavily distorted shouting that matches the hopeless atmosphere before picking up the pace once more, but still retaining the atmosphere despite the clean lead chords that appear shortly after. There’s also “Amphetamine Animal,” which will misdirect you at the start with a very boring introduction. The rest isn’t that much better, but the slight complexity in the lead chords do cause it to be catchier than it has any right to be, and the laid back quality of the music is matched nicely with the laid back singing. “Invocation to the Old Ones” can’t be ignored either. Focusing largely on Space Rock ideas laced with more Droning, it takes about eight minutes before the song actually hits. But, when it does, it’s quite enjoyable. Capitalizing off the astral effects here and there, the heavy riffs breathe more Stoner Metal back into the mix in a way that you can bang your head along to, with clean vocals that are pushed into the background. In the end, you’re patience is actually rewarded quite well.

While it has the potential to be a pretty loud and heavy album, White Lightnin’ is far from anything too exciting, or even all that enjoyable. Sure, this is a pretty bass-dominant album with everything else sounding bland without energy or a Stoner Metal direction, but there are two glimmers of hope. “Mount Nysa” and the latter half of “Invocation to the Old Ones” really stand out as the only positively memorable offerings on the entire recording. If you’re adventurous enough to give this a shot, just know that many songs have potential that is crushed by the boring simpler Psychadelic riffs, slower pace, and really bland distortions, making White Lightnin’ by Obelyskkh an album well worth just passing up.

01. The Enochian Keys – 5:56
02. Elegy – 9:41
03. The White Lightning – 9:44
04. Mount Nyse – 6:29
05. Amphetamine Animal – 9:21
06. Abysmal Desert Cavern – 6:57
07. Invocation to the Old Ones – 15:12
Overall Score: 2.5/10
Obelyskkh (band)
Obelyskkh
Digital review copy of this release provided by Exile on Mainstream Records via Earsplit PR.