Imagine toiling away at something for years, putting your life’s blood and sweat into it, yet it never seems to come to fruition. Despite how much you may believe it what you’ve done and feel that your work is substantial and worthwhile, it sits on the sidelines waiting for it to be made into something substantial that can be held in people’s hands.
Bay Area-based Ordo Obsidium faced a similar crisis with the release of their great second record “A Crooked Path to Desolation.” Technically, the music has been out there in digital form for the past three years, so if you were paying attention and jumped on this, then this is old news to you. But now, the music finally is getting proper physical release on digipak CD and vinyl, years after it first was promised. But better late than never, because this music has held up and sounds just as crushing and vital, with Eisenwald coming through with a copy of this record you literally can hold in front of you (though it’s frighteningly limited as just 300 pieces per format). And if you’re a fan of doom-scraped black metal, you’ll drink this down quickly, with no regard to how your body can adjust to absorb and digest.
The other impressive thing about Ordo Obsidium, despite their music being flattening and morose, is that the group is built by some folks you know well if you’ve dug deep into U.S. black metal soil. On this record, the band is credited as Balan (Palace of Worms) on guitars, keys, bass, and vocals; Incitatus on guitars, bass, and vocals; Sokol on vocals; and Otrebor (Botanist) on drums. That’s a formidable collection of players, and their work here is dreary, smothering, and actually perfectly timed to resurface when chill and death is about to be in the air again. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the record was produced by the late, great Jef Leppard, who not only had the best moniker but also helped create some crushing metal. See, Vastum. By the Ordo Obsidium’s 2011 debut “Orbis Tertius” also is a pretty damn worthy listen, though it’s a different configuration of the band.
The record starts with “Ominous Clouds,” an aptly named intro cut that’s awash in strange noises, wordless calling, and whispers whipping about. The title track tears open this track in earnest, as the guitars cry doom, grisly growls mix with gothy singing, and later everything totally erupts. The tempo bends and twists violently, while the cut crunches and lurches before it fades away. “Nightbird’s Song” unleashes powerful riffs, shadowy singing that gets washed into the background, and gurgly growls emitting disgust. The filth and fury are thick, while guitars rain down, throaty calls beckon, and violence mixes with melodies for the final doses of bloodshed. “Dire Monument” meets you with a driving fury, abysmal growls, and later some glorious power that stretches over the muck. The lead guitars trick and trudge, eventually hitting a slower pace, where synth floods, and the pace is deadly and demanding.
The second half opens with “The Warping Palace,” where guitars burn, the setting is ominous and cold, and the pace is thrashier, which is a nice touch. Strangled cries burst, while moody soloing settles in, strengthening the song even more. The cut then delves back into classic metal, though it meets up with carnage and eventually bleeds away. “Morose Delectation” snaps with speed and savagery, feeling raw and grim as it drips with horror. This one is situated a little closer to death metal, as the growls are harsh and grimy, the pace intensifies, and everything winds up in a pit of dust. “Breath of Eternal Light” starts ripping veins from your neck at the very start, as it decimates with wild howls, a thick bassline, and a thrashy assault that leaves you in the dust. Riffs chug, but then things get trippy and psychedelic, with guitars spraying all over and rumbling to the final resting spot. Closer “Doom Herald” lives up to its name, slithering over death grounds, teasing a slower cut until the bottom is torn out and terror arrives. The vocals gurgle, strong melodies dominate, and slurry fury and metallic terror cascade until the end.
Ordo Obsidium may have waited a long time to get “A Crooked Path to Desolation” into physical form, but all that matters is that time has arrived, and it sounds a great as ever. Where the band goes from here is anyone’s guess, but the fact they created some great hidden gems while in our midst should not go unnoticed. This is a record that’s waited a long time to get its just due, so don’t be foolish and sleep on this creeping beast.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/ordo.obsidium/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.eisenton.de/shop/index.php
For more on the label, go here: http://www.eisenton.de/