PICK OF THE WEEK: Obsequiae apply sword-tested metallic touch to great ‘Palms of Sorrowed Kings’

Part of the reason I started listening to metal in the first place is because it was a way for me to get away from the things that bothered me in my younger years. I wasn’t an outcast or anything, but making friends wasn’t automatic for me, and I suffered from anxiety and depression, though I didn’t realize it at the time. But metal was always there, and it was a place I could always go to get away.

Every time we get a visit from Obsequiae, it brings me back to the times when I had to retreat into metal for comfort, which continues on their stirring third record “The Palms of Sorrowed Kings.” Something about their music connects me to that, makes me feel like I’m entering into a spacious world where the negativity of existence isn’t quite a heavy. Their Medieval-style black metal pummels and gallops but also shimmers, making it feel like you’re headed toward a great quest where adventure is at every turn. Like the other Obsequiae albums, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Tanner Anderson and drummer Eoghan McCloskey are joined by harp player Vincente la Camera  Mariño, whose interludes take you back to well bygone eras, almost as if these songs were conjured to the present by time machine. It all makes for a package that this band owns so securely and exclusively, which makes them such a special band.

“L’autrier M’en Aloie” opens the record, the first harp track from La Camera Mariño that lets loose calming fogs and a chilling ambiance that flows toward “Ceres in Emerald Streams” where glorious leads emerge from the mists, while melodic shrieks set the tone, and the intensity is multiplied. Leads burn and sprawl, unleashing a chugging fury that ends in a fiery burst. “In the Garden of Hyacinths” comes out of a smokescreen while cool riffs and busting drums team up and begin the march. The pace is punchy for the most part, while the chorus is swelling and energetic, bleeding into rushing terrain. Shrieks compound while the soling goes off, leaving a trail of ash behind. “Palästinalied” has the harp thawing, letting the music wash over you like a babbling brook, pushing you down downstream to “The Palms of Sorrowed Kings” and its glowing introductory riffs. The leads lap and give off a classic power metal feel, later mixing into goth-style backing that creates steam. The leads break open and lead to an adrenaline surge, meeting up with lathering shrieks, clean calls bellowing, and the track fading out. “Morrígan” begins with birds chirping before the riffs awaken, bringing burly playing and gruff shrieks. The leads feel like they soar over the mountaintops, with savagery cutting in, and a glorious haze putting over the final attack that makes up the snarked finish.

“Per Tropo Fede” brings the harp back in as birds chirp and your mind unravels, heading toward “Lone Isle” that blasts open, as the guitars flow like lava. Shrieks rain down as the molten playing keeps raging forward, as the drums take their turn dealing shots. The playing just surges from there, bringing the track to a smoldering end. “Asleep in the Bracken” reveals gothy synth sheets, intricate leads, and a folkish vibe amid a pool of heaviness. Melody spreads its wings while the song pelts you with cinders, while shrieks pound away, and the mind-altering puts you into a trance. “Quant Voi La Flor Novele” has the harp playing emerging from a frosty peak, as mist coats your face, and a feeling of solemnity pushes into your heart. “Emanations Before the Pythia” slowly dawns as a dialog begins to show itself, feeling dreamlike, before a burly riffs flexes and shrieks scrape your skin. The track is both melodic and aggressive, fiery and combustible as the leads sear, and the voice from beyond seems like a ghost calling you. The track then explodes anew as the guitars pour out, and the essence is charred away. “In Hoc Anni Circulo” closes the record, acting as a harp-infused bookend that brings a last dose of numbness before the track exist into the night.

“The Palms of Sorrowed Kings,” like the other two Obsequiae releases in their respective times of release, sounds absolutely nothing like any other album that’s come out this year, no matter the genre. This is fun, challenging, heart-swelling music that makes you imagine eras gone by when castles were stormed and blood was spilled right in earthen battlegrounds. This makes for a great escape from the monotony and frustrations of everyday life, giving you a chance to feel the power of heavy metal and how it can positively impact your psyche.

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