PICK OF THE WEEK: After seven years, Obsidian Tongue return with dark, swelling ‘Volume III’

Bookending the week with Rush talk, I sort of realized it had been seven years since I last saw Rush. It felt like it was not that long ago. Maybe a few years. At the same time, so much has happened during that time from jobs changing, to new friends both human and animal coming into our lives, to moving homes. It feels like such a long time and such a short time.

It also had been seven years since we last heard from Maine-based dark metal band Obsidian Tongue, that being 2013’s “A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time,” a record that feels like it came out ages ago. But a lot has gone on within the band itself, especially as it comes to Brendan Hayter, the guitarist/vocalist whose run with the band dates back to their 2009 inception. Personal and professional changes can make the time go flying by as you deal with those issues, yet here he is back with drummer Raymond Capizzo (also of Falls of Rauros) for third album “Volume III,” a five-track, 43-minute opus that mixes light and dark, heavy and serene on a collection that captures you and takes you for a ride with the band as they traverse pain and triumph on a record that is nicely portioned and properly quaking through its run.

“Anatkh” is the 14:45-long opener, and it’s the lengthiest track on here, beginning with the music melting in and rich singing from Hayter spreading as an atmosphere is formed. Guitars float amid words that are almost whispery before the song ignites, and the singing turns to wrenching cries. Harsh and light continue to mix as the tempo swells, and Hayter’s vocals switch toggle as the drama builds, and then acoustics are folded into the mix. That swirls around before savage hammering emerges again, soaring in through dreams and coming out ablaze on the other side before gloom disappears in a fiery haze. “Poison Green Dream” has a proggy start that boils before the track opens up, and shrieks escape into the wild. Strong singing bursts over the chorus, driving into creaky speaking and a mystery set before the inevitable eruption that lets guitar melodies sweep. Shrieked cries pummel as the chaos ends in total destruction.

“Return to the Fields of Violet” has guitars stirring and ramping up, shrieks crushing, then clean calls working their way toward the stream. Guitars liquify as pain drips, patterns shift, and Hayter wails, “We’ll cross the threshold as one,” as strong leads cut through, and the track comes to a thundering finish. “Empath” is quiet and solemn while Hayter’s singing spills out, and the music flows elegantly. That peace is short lived as the song rages to life while shrieks sizzle, and the drumming absolutely pummels the senses. The song blisters ahead even as colder waters flow, failing to give relief. The ground freezes over as the power kicks back in, with the playing feeling hearty and emotional, while keys slither and a female voice speaks over the growing tide. Hayter’s shrieks return and leave scars while the track switches from a chilly ambiance to unforgiving fire, leading the track comes to its massive finish. “Coda – Child in Ice” ends the record peacefully, a quick outro instrumental built with soft keys, gentle echoes, and your heart being impacted as the music drains to its resting place.

We waited seven long years before we heard from Obsidian Tongue again, but it was worth it considering the impactful return that is “Volume III.” Hayter and Capizzo manage to crawl inside your psyche and leave you heaving and emotionally exhausted after spending time with this creation. This band’s presence is a vital one for all of those who appreciate music they practically can live inside of, and Obsidian Tongue always have the welcome mat rolled out in their part of the woods, ready to let you take the harrowing journey along with them.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/obsidiantongueband/

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.bindrunerecordings.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://bindrunerecordings.com/