Obake has nothing to do with a popular UK TV series, but is a Japanese term which means “that which changes” or “ghost of a departed one”. “Draugr”, which itself refers to a creature returning from the dead, is the Italian’s band’s third album release.
Heavy metal at heart, this album has some very interesting patterns. Opening track “Cold Facts” has a deep grungy riff, dual vocals and lingering shapes. It’s a clear case of accomplished musicians who know how to control songs and shape them in an interesting way. The riff and the catchy chorus hold us rapt while the band treats us to imaginative instrumentals and sound effects. A very good start, indeed. It seemed however to be a case of peaking early as the following two songs were characterless. “The Augur” is hard-going but at least its soulful tone and sound waves restore some personality. Doom has now taken over, but it expands into a heavy but conclusionless flurry on “Appeasing the Apparition”.
An Eastern style mystic tone accompanies “Serving the Alibi”. It brightens up another dour song. Heavy fuzziness rings through it, and generates a deep and old-fashioned groove. From this “Cloud of Liars” embraces the world of experimentalism, stopping suddenly after lurching through a series of harsh and shapeless motions. By now, the singer’s voice was beginning to grate and I was feeling disconnected, with the fuzz rock/metal acting as backdrop to anaemic, shapeless and unsympathetic songs. The song passes through a symphonically muddy stage, before there is a return to the peculiar vocals and old fashioned rock. I struggled to listen to this. The title track shows promise with a cosmically infused background to a quiet piece. It’s like a psychedelic “Power of Love”. The singer for once finds his tune and plays his part in building up the dreamy atmosphere. This is then followed by a remix of the same track. Electronic ambience and dashes are dotted through the galactic scene. It’s perfect –moody, atmospheric and like a heartbeat. Where did this come from? It’s different and at last interesting.
“Cold Facts” has real qualities and built up my hopes and expectations. Unfortunately they weren’t realised until the two versions of “Draugr” at the end. In between I didn’t know what I was listening to, but all I can say is that it wasn’t very pleasant. I’m glad this album finished on a high note. I can see there’s a creative spark here, which is unique. I just wish there was more of it.
(6/10 Andrew Doherty)