My first encounter with Obsidian Kingdom came at last year’s ProgPower Europe. My recollections are of a dynamic performance, laden with heavy but spellbinding post metal intensity.
We enter a world of contrasting forms, sophistication and imagination. The opening title is strong and emotive, combining colourfully sharp and clear instrumentals with a captivating vocal line. The theme is dark – “this year there’ll be no summer”. The purposeful instrumentals carry a threat. It’s still one of those tracks that flows through the veins. I don’t know what happened on April 10th but that’s the title of the ensuing darkly electronic experimental horror show. “Are you like a window .. is your life a pane (pain)?”, asks the vocalist. Don’t expect anything normal. Is that a room full of Daleks? Waves of horror spread themselves. Cue the violent intensity of “Darkness”, which transforms from rage to throbbing depths and more industrial waves. There is a sinister distance and haunting presence lurking behind all these experimental slabs of slabs of extreme and molten metal. “Darkness” leads naturally into the utterly dark and dangerous “The Kandinsky Group”, which features Attila Csihar of Mayhem fame. The atmosphere is pungent. The scene transforms again and we enter the warmer but deeply cosmic world of “The Polyarnik”. It seems strange to draw analogy with Pink Floyd, such is the extreme darkness of this irreversible journey through massive voids and cosmic storms, but the distant and haunting tones and delivery of “Black Swan” reinforce this view. The guitarists supply the ever present depth while the patient drum patter, delicate guitar and electronic backdrop add extra ingredients and dimensions to this richest of mixes. The delight of this album lies in the bewildering array of sounds. Many of them are utterly sinister. All of them have character and make bold statements. In typical fashion “Away Absent” engulfs the aural senses, spreading its range through harsh territories before launching into a world of magic and feeling. But this is feeling with power and strength. That power is mind-blowing. Not so mind-blowing is the acoustic secret track which closes the album. But that’s the only blot on this devastating landscape, which Obsidian Kingdom has created.
Never has 48 minutes passed so quickly. The reason is simple: “A Year with No Summer” is non-stop action. Layer upon layer of impact-laden sounds come from all angles, taking us through carefully chiselled dark and cosmic worlds. “There is a constant sense of drowning, darkness and depression”, states the accompanying publicity to describe the band’s third album. It’s true. “A Year with No Summer” is enormous.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)