Ordo Obsidium, Orbis Tertius

I have a feeling you'll be hearing quite a lot about San Francisco's Ordo Obsidium in the future. I've had digital files of the tracks on their forthcoming debut album Orbis Tertius for quite some time now, and since the first time I heard them, I've been addicted. I'm a sucker for a well-crafted song, and this album contains 5 of them. The songs shift rather effortlessly between amazingly rich atmospheric black metal to heavy and edgy funeral doom. There are other bands that do this, and a few (I stress FEW) even do it well (Faustcoven comes to mind), but this record belongs in a league of its own.

It doesn't break new ground, it's not revolutionary, but it does accomplish one thing that a lot of bands seem to have problems doing these days; it recognizes and pays respect to the first and second wave of black metal bands that paved the way for most of what we hear today, but also moves toward something I hesitantly call "progress." Don't get me wrong; it's not a progressive record in the "technical" sense of the word, but it's clear that this band understands that black metal is getting increasingly bland and quite honestly, ridiculous at times. Ordo Obsidium may not be doing anything particularly new with their sound, but they've gone out of their way to write really good songs, with heavy, memorable riffs, unquestionable passion and enough atmosphere to fill a room.

Incitatus's vocals are perfect black metal vox, and when the tempo slows down, they still fit remarkably well. No easy accomplishment there. Balan's (from Palace of Worms) guitars are hypnotic and almost psychedelic at times, creating most of the atmosphere themselves. This prevents the record from needing a whole lot of keys; they are used, but minimally and appropriately, which is fitting for these songs and the atmosphere that the record tries to create.

The production on the album is fantastic. There's quite a divide growing between people that prefer their metal to be fairly well-polished and those who want it raw and filthy, but I think most of us can understand that the production must fit the band and the songs. Face facts, folks - Drudkh just wouldn't sound good with the same production as that last Bone Awl record. Likewise, any of those Black Twilight Circle bands would sound shitty if they were polished and clean. This album straddles the center; it's not overproduced by any stretch, but it's also not particularly dirty. Just dirty enough to be doomed and sickly; just clean enough to warrant a couple of acoustic passages that sound like the end times coming in on the waves.

There's really nothing about this record that I don't like. A more-than-solid debut release for this band that we will hopefully hear much more from in the future.

To sample two tracks from the album on Soundcloud, go here. To buy the CD from the Eisenwald shop, go here. US distribution will be handled by Ominous Domain, and our friends at Flenser will also have a few copies for sale as well. If I haven't made it clear, I recommend you buy this one way or another. This is not an album that anyone will regret having in their collection.

No comments: