Musically, Obzidian come from a very dark and mysterious place, judging by this work of experimental and progressive old school metal. There are no prisoners taken here on “Damned Eternal”. Deep and heavy, the styles and mixed and there’s an anarchic progressiveness about the guitar work. Death metal is more or less the core style. Add an air of post-industrial apocalypse and distorted muttering later in the track and you’ve got the opening track “21:15”. The brutal carnage then continues on the monstrous “The Murder Song”, which has an old school metal feel and seems to arise from the ashes of Black Sabbath with brutal death spices. Well it’s like that until an acoustic solo works its way in. A section of hoarse and harsh death metal follows, as the lead into the industrialised sound distortions and chunky drum and guitar. It’s not colourless, nor is it multi-coloured, but it chugs along but I couldn’t in my mind establish where it was going. The wildness recalls Hendrix. The main refrain, in so far as there is one, is a bit bland. All in all, I’m not sure about “The Murder Song”.
As the album developed and the array of metallic sounds ever widens, I began to wonder. The chunky metal seems to be accompanied by obligatory changes of direction. It has an air of insanity but it’s managed. If I heard this live (and I don’t recall if I have ever seen them play live, although I recognise the name), I can imagine myself going to the bar afterwards and describing them as interesting or even good without really appreciating what I’d heard and checking them out more seriously. As the vocalist growls on, I could picture myself listening to other bands and the memory of Obzidian fading.
“Where The Pain Runs Deep” is another metal bash but a bit of a nonentity which I had trouble getting to grips with as a whole. “Decay of Time” maybe defines my issue with this album. It has potential mystery but while it progresses in its sludgy way, I found it fragmented and uninspiring as the background sound serves as a foil for the screams and growls. An inexplicable softer acoustic section gives way to another old school metal guitar fest. I liked the following track “Ghosts of Yesterday”. It starts creepingly, and felt it getting under my skin. Menacing drums combine with hardcore and unexpectedly lead into a rare bright acoustic passage. You never know what you’re going to get with this album. Nice dreamy melodies are not normally on the agenda. The track returns to Mr Hardcore with those cutting edge drums. The ambiance is right here and appropriate to a track called “Ghosts of Yesterday”. The atmosphere intensifies as whistling sounds turn into psychedelia and a Mediterranean-style guitar section. The album changes its course again as the brutal and dark “Solitude” is more in the style of driving US death metal. “Looking through the Eyes of the Damned” gives the album a more oblique, hazy and technical edge before the album finishes with the multi-faceted side of Obzidian on “Blood Soaked Tears”. The quiet start precedes the familiar terrain of patiently dark metal. A dual combination of death vocals feature but the track is more noteworthy for its persistent and punchy riff. It speeds up eventually. As the track slugs on, there are moments of drama and tension. There’s a surprising clear but dodgy vocal section to wake us out of the slumber. Much better is the mellow acoustic passage. Obzidian are good at chunky riffs but there’s real potential and mood in the rare mellow acoustic sections. This prefaces a sultry guitar solo. The drum taps exotically. Then it returns to heaviness. In fact “Damned Eternal” is heavy going in every sense. “Blood Soaked Tears” then fades out in a languid way, leading me to wonder if this hadn’t all been an exercise in over-indulgence.
“Damned Eternal” is boundary-breaking. I’ll give it that. There’s a lot of heavyweight stuff to absorb here. This heavy progressive album is unusual but it comes across as an experiment or sample of what Obzidian can do. I believe they are preparing a new album. I just hope that that the structure of the new album will be such that it’s easier to engage with than “Damned Eternal”.
(5.5 / 10 Andrew Doherty)