Obscurae’s frighteningly frozen black metal bows down to night on ‘To Walk the Path of Sorrows’

The night can be mysterious and frightening to many people, as I recall times spent as a kid cowering under my covers, wondering what strange noises outside were, always worrying there was a strange face peering back at me in black corners of my room. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown friendly with the night, a time when I feel most at home with my own psychosis and unsteady thoughts.

Chad Davis, veteran of many, many bands of the metallic realms from Hour of 13 to the Sabbathian to the Ritualist to tons more, used the night as the ultimate inspiration for “To Walk the Path of Sorrows,” his harsh but atmospheric black metal project Obscurae. This record, his second full-length effort under this banner, is a true revelation this time of year when daylight is at a minimum and the nights are darker and colder than what we just witnessed with spring and summer. This music feels like it hisses beneath the earth’s crust that also happens to be covered by inches of snow and ice, and is a gruff, noise-infested creation that might sound foreign to people who have grown more accustomed to polished sounds. But Davis never holds back on the melody or majesty; you just have to work through each morbid layer to find the sweet spots driven so low beneath your feet. It’s worth doing to work.    

“Upon the Shadowthrone of Night” begins sending phantasmal impulses to your central nervous system as keys rush and then the hammers fall. Davis’ shrieks tear into flesh, ripping viciously even as they’re buried under several feet of snow and ice, jackhammering as the synth adds layers of frost. The chaos continues to gain intensity while the riffs cripple, and everything disappears into the night. “Amidst the Blackfrost Towers” unloads a beastly assault while the vocals lurk in the shadows, and the guitar work confounds. The drumming clobbers as the pace grows hypnotic and disorienting, adding generous amounts of murk as the track devastates to the end. “Into Fullmoon Descent” spills opens with Davis’ shrieks splattering and savage punishment leading the way. The melodies feel like they’ve been warped by moonlight as an awesome sprawl leads to the fog collecting, and shrieks are obscured by noise. Things continue to get more violent from there, finally subsiding by being guided into the sky.

The title track then emerges with an eruption as sorrowful heaviness brings an avalanche, and the vocals lay waste to everything. Majestic firing continues to collect and bring added pressure, while stunning power does a number on your muscles, and the riffs encircle you, filling each pore with the mysterious essence of the nighttime air. “Eerie Freezing Winds” is pulverizing as is starts as the vocals blind, scraping your soul of all its blackness. Synth manages to add chill to the fires as the track keeps pounding away, letting new bursts spit chaos. The track explodes violently as majestic storming adds more nocturnal power, bringing the track to a bruising end. “Stillheten” is the closer on the physical editions of the album, an instrumental that slowly bring a thaw to the freezing branches and waterways, haunting and giving the sense of despair and loneliness that slips into the forest and amplifies your sense of terrifying solitude. The digital version contains two instrumental bonus tracks, the first being “Ensomhet,” which was the title track on Obscurae’s 2016 full-length debut, and “Nocturne,” a shorter cut that bring synth vibrations, glowing ambiance, and mysterious spirits leaving tracks in the snow.

Davis already was a grizzled veteran before launching Obscurae, and “To Walk the Path of Sorrows” is a powerful step forward for this project that’s eternally shrouded in darkness and ghostly apparition. The honor pledged to the night on this record practically can be tasted and digested, as every visit with this music, no matter the time of day, has the left the feeling of absolute absence of light. This is perfect for when the final hours of one day bleed into the next, and your own inebriation gives you a gateway to explore ideas that might terrify you otherwise.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://obscuraebm.bandcamp.com/merch

For more on the label, go here: https://americandeclinerecords.bandcamp.com/music