I need to get a sword. I don’t plan on fighting anyone with it or sparring or even doing anything remotely dangerous with it, mostly because I will be the one who gets injured. But I’d love to have one just so when I hear glorious music that sparks my fighting spirit, I can pretend to swing it around my music room. And probably severely wound myself in the process. Maybe I can just hang it on a wall.
There’s not a time I want to have a sword in my possession more than when I hear Obsequiae and their decidedly Medieval-style metal. If this stuff doesn’t make you envision storming a castle, fighting off knights and other weapon-wielding enemies, swinging from ropes, and saving someone in distress, then you have no imagination. Or just a really bad one. This has been one of my most anticipated records of 2015, so much so that it was one of my most anticipated of 2014. Luckily, meeting up with Tanner Anderson at Gilead Fest last summer and getting to ask the lowdown on this second record was valuable, as he explained the creative process was taking longer than initially planned, but that waiting it out would be worth it. Actually, eager listeners will have to wait a little bit longer, as the CD/digital got delayed to May 26, with the vinyl coming in late June/early July due to circumstance beyond their control. Anyhow, true to Anderson’s word, “Aria of Vernal Tombs” is an amazing adventure, one that makes me want to don a suit of armor and do something stupid.
“Aria” is the follow-up effort to the band’s fantastic debut record “Suspended in the Brume of Eos.” That was an eye-opener as I’d not heard any band quite like Obsequiae at that time, and if others have tried to copy their formula since then, no one has come close to replicating it. Anderson, at the helm on guitars, vocals, and bass, along with drummer Andrew Della Cagna (Infirmary, Nechochwen) and Vincente La Camera Mariño, who provides medieval harp and provides the records many instrumentals, have tapped into something truly special. It really feels like you’re out on your horse on a hot day, trapped in boiled leather, making your way to a fight to the finish. Their adventurous, melodic style sweeps you up, and their skullduggery gives you the taste of blood you so desire.
“Ay que por muy gran fremosura” is the opener and the first harp-led song on the record. The other musical elements do join in, making it sound like the spine of a fantasy book cracking open. “Autumnal Pyre” breaks out from that, with bells ringing as if warning the village of an attack, great lead guitars burning, and harsh growls erupting, feeling animalistic. I could probably use the descriptor “melodic” when discussing every song, so go ahead and assume that, but this cut also has very lush corners, ends that feel like power metal, and the final seconds dissolving in a storm and a female choral part. “Until All Ages Fall” begins gruff and rough, with the guitars soaring over top of everything, some aggression coming out, and the bulk of the track burning the hair off your arms. “L’amour dont sui espris” is one of the harp-rich instrumental cuts, feeling rustic and misty, and that leads to “Pools of Vernal Paradise,” where humid guitars hang in the air, the tempo begins to pound away, and the vocals really catch fire, leading to a more forceful, cutting track than what’s preceded it.
“Anlace and Heart” starts with a burning hot lead guitar line and vicious vocals, spilling into, you guessed it, more captivating melody that makes your heart surge and later music sprawling all about. It’s colorful as hell, and sure to inspire thoughts of battles past (um, hopefully ones you only dreamed), and the final moments tease you into thinking things are calming before the walls are ripped down again. “The Archeress’s Orion” is a quiet, folk-leaning instrumental, setting the path for the destructive, molten “In the Absence of Light.” That cut trudges heavily, with swelling playing, creaky growls, and a driving tempo, with an echoey dialog cutting in later and the charging soloing pushing the way. “Wilweorthunga” is a devastater, ripping right open and really pushing the gas pedal. The song is just thunderous, with the vocals as raw as anywhere on the record and the drums beaten to a pulp. One final harp instrumental arises in the form of “Des oge mais quer eu trobar” that has a foggy, dreamy feel, then it’s right into closer “Orphic Rites of the Mystic,” where guitars make an assault on the senses, and vicious growls arrive to darken the skies. This cut is the closest example to pure black metal on the album, especially vocally, and the mood conjured in the final moments feels like one shrouded in shadows, with a mystical aura rising and then fading away along with this song.
Yeah, a four-year wait was something to behold, but “Aria of Vernal Tombs” is another dark, glorious slab of metal that truly sounds like nothing else. Obsequiae definitely have a great thing going here, and two records into their run, they remain one of the most enjoyable, compelling bands going. Hopefully their move to 20 Buck Spin will be rewarded with a wider audience and perhaps a gig one day in an old burned out castle. They’d be right at home.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/epicuscastlecusmetallicus
To buy the album, go here: http://20buckspinshop.com/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/20buckspin