Thursday, September 7, 2017
Pillorian : " Obsidian Arc"
Unsure why it took so long to get around to this album. Listening to Agalloch's"Ashes Against the Grain" album I began wondering what Don Haughm was up to and a few clicks later here we are.This came out back in march and also features members of Infernus and Arkhum. Vocally it still has the trade mark sneer we heard in Agalloch though he might be screaming out with even more anguish here. I like the fact there is plenty of room to be melodic and they are not pounding you with blast beats. The drummer uses double bass to bring the thunder right from the opener. Its more bombastic drumming that was used in Agalloch. When the blast beats do come they are made more tolerable by the fact that the guitar doesn't feel the need to fall in line behind them.This is however more overtly metal than the bulk of what Agalloch did. This is not to say there is not clean vocals or guitar tones, they are just less frequent that what commonly comes to mind when I think of Agalloch.
From a songwriting perspective their are plenty of punchy hooks in the riffs. The guitars on this album have varied tones and are well produced with plenty of melody. Lyrically there is some fantasy dancing around with talks of wielding swords in the face of the gods. Though things don't accelerate to far out of bounds on the first song I prefer the more deliberate pace of the second song. Though when it comes to the whispered part midway into it I find myself not as engaged and having to regain focus. Things continue to darken with "the Vestige of Thorns". I have already heard people say that these guys could be better than Agalloch, and I think that is a pretty wishful could. This song is melodic for black metal, but doesn't touch the scope of dynamics that Agalloch encompassed.
The guitar playing and the drumming are both top notch for what these guys are doing, but still rather monochrome when it comes to the range of colors they approach,
They devolve into more mundane black metal launching into "Forged Iron Crucible". This is a more aggressive take on black metal that might prove to more staunch fans of black metal they can go a more Marduk route, it is not as interesting as some of the previous songs. "A Stygian Pyre" is also more straight forward black metal but more from a darker Dissection school of thought where it takes from the catchy grooves of thrash. One of the most interesting songs is the darker depths of the melodic "Dark is the River of Man". It opens with clean vocals and uses moments of the more whispered rasps that marked early Agalloch. I can say this album feels darker than most Agalloch. If we are going to really weigh in on if this album is better than Agalloch I'm giving this album an 8.5 and Agalloch's albums have all scored higher than that , so that answers that one. However that is a high bar and this album is pretty entertaining.