Last year, we were greeted by an exciting new black metal band in FALSE that very well could shape the future of the genre in the United States. That was with just one release, containing two songs, and this year should bring us their next assault. With 2012 not even through its second month, we have yet another new black metal unit in Obolus that also could fan the flames and are kind of going about their business in the same manner.
I know almost nothing about Obolus, and that seems by design. I can’t find a web site or Facebook page (there are other bands with this name, so be careful). If you check their Metal Archives entry, you learn nothing about the band, be it where they’re from, who they are, and what they’re mission is. But that’s pretty awesome. This type of music is even more effective when it’s shrouded in mystery. The dreamy, thunderous gaze of their music, the harsh bleakness of their sound, and the complete anguish works even better considering the band doesn’t really have as public face. Also, what we should be discussing is their music and not what clothes they’re wearing, whether they embrace corpse paint, and how they look. There’s so much distraction involving most bands that just having the sonic element to discuss is refreshing, and if they decide to raise the curtain in time, that’s their call. As long as they keep delivering soul-shattering music, then who gives a damn what they do?
Obolus have a couple of releases out right now, one available on cassette and the other on vinyl. Both are worth your exploration and should give you a nice breath of chaotic air that’ll light your lungs ablaze. The band is massive and suffocating, yet they have a thread of melodic, somber power that weaves in and out of their songs. That makes their music more catchy, funny enough, but also far sadder.
First up is the band’s demo, released last year by Sunyata Recordings, that sold out in no time at all. So the buzz is there, and people realize a powerful entity when they hear one. Don’t fret, keep reading, because there is a way to get your hands on this two-track, eight minute effort that’s become one of the most talked-about demo efforts in some time. The song titles alone should clue you into the content ahead. “Despair” opens with a dark, washed-out gaze, becoming forceful and harsh and taking you down under the water. As noted, there’s a great sense of melody here, but it gnaws at your heart and mind. It feels desperate and hopeless, crushing any sense of light in its path. Same goes for “Selfless,” an emotional and sad blast that has shriekier vocals and some shoegaze fog. The whole thing ends so fast, it feels kind of premature, but it’s just a demo. So it’s just a taste of what the band can do and isn’t supposed to be a fully fleshed-out release. But it got people talking, and it made me super excited to hear what was next from this band operating in the shadows.
You still have a really quick window to get your hands on this demo, because Merz Tapes just released 100 copies of the cassette. As of this very moment, only 20 remain, so don’t fall asleep on this awesome recording. You might just have a gem on your hand that will grow in value with the passage of time.
To buy the cassette, go here: http://merztapes.bigcartel.com/
For more on Merz Tapes, go here: http://www.merztapes.com/
If you already have the demo or you’re just interested in what Obolus has planned next, wait no longer. Flenser Records is releasing their new EP “Lament” on vinyl, and for a limited time, you can download the whole thing digitally for free. Flenser is doing this to get out the word on this band, so you can sample before you buy. And trust me, if you like their depressive, dark black metal, you’ll be going for your wallet in no time. The sound is a little less lo-fi than the demo, and the music begins to grow and mature a little bit more. That doesn’t mean it gets pretty or polished, because it’s not even close to that. Instead, you can just hear the band’s music making leaps and bounds, as they become a deadlier, even more effective unit.
There is rainfall that opens and sometimes closes most of these songs, almost as if they’re drowning their sorrows and pain in showers from the sky. “Desolation” is the first cut on this EP, and once the rain subsides, the spacious, atmospheric assault rises up, swells, and finally fades into the night. “Reflection” is a shoegaze-washed interlude that sets the mood for “Hatred,” the angriest, most aggressive song on either of these releases. The song completely ignites, with a backbone of doom death and a speedy fury that turns your skeleton to gel. “Grievance” also has its mean and thorny parts, but it’s mostly a fluid, calculated song that never comprises its heaviness. The closing title cut is an instrumental outro that lets you come back to earth and get a grip on your feelings. It leaves you feeling like you’ve gone on a pretty serious mental journey, one that requires every bit of yourself to complete.
To buy “Lament,” go here: http://store.theflenser.com/product/obolus-lament-10-pre-sale
To download the music, go here: http://theflenser.bandcamp.com/album/lament
For more on Flenser Records, go here: http://theflenser.com/
I’m really excited about Obolus in their current form, and even more enthusiastic about where they’ll go in the future. They have all the makings of a genre-altering band, one that captures the imagination and takes you somewhere. If in a few years they’re a force within the domestic scene and have scores of bands following their path, you’ll always remember that this is where it started, and you were along for the ride.
For more on Obolus, go here: http://obolusband.bandcamp.com/