Obsidious – Iconic
Season Of Mist
Release Date: 28/10/2022
Running Time: 53:16
Review by Rory Bentley
One of the many downsides of having a lot of guitarist friends is that they constantly confuse being able to play the shit out of one’s instrument with making good music that I’d actually want to listen to. I get told to check out new bands that wouldn’t know a chorus if it tea-bagged them while they were practicing their sweep picking. For this reason, I’m always wary of Tech-Metal bands. Some are great but most of them leave me utterly bemused in a flurry of songless audio pud-pulling. Obsidious call themselves ‘Modern Metal’ in their press notes but you’re not fooling anyone lads! Most of you were in Obscura, one of the shreddiest of the Tech-Death bands, and all your listed influences are Prog and Tech bands that have had 20 year plus careers! If half the bands in this scene were as creative with their music as these press notes are with the truth I wouldn’t have spent my whole Ever Metal tenure cherry-picking Hardcore releases from the review schedule.
Thankfully as you can see from the rather positive score at the top of the page, this debut album has enough sizzle and song-writing nous to appeal to an audience far beyond people who are in a relationship with a metronome. For a first go-around, “Iconic” (ballsy name), does an impressive job of turning its Prog-Metal magpie act into a cohesive whole that avoids pretty much all the pitfalls of that Monuments album that I probably graded far too generously a few months ago. It’s surprisingly lean, sonically varied and hints at an exciting future.
Those familiar with the pedigree of the instrumental contingent of the band will be fully aware that they are as fundamentally sound as it gets and can perform the kind of skin and string acrobatics that would make Robert Fripp’s head spin, but it is the man on the mic that provides the final piece to this chaotic jigsaw. I don’t know where they got Javi Perera from (mainly because I got bored of reading the press notes) but he is like a Prog Metal chimera (the mythological hybrid animal not the noughties Metal band) traversing smooth Tesseract cleans, Symphony X operatics and gritty Devin Townsend bellows. He’s so good at the theatrical side of things that I caught myself in a reverie imagining Dream Theatre with a tolerable singer. A guy can dream right?
Not only is he adept at the whole singing thing, but his distorted vocals are also excellent, possessing a guttural quality and robust thickness that would be more at home on a Morbid Angel or early Opeth record. The often characterless phoned-in approach to harsh vocals is one of my least favourite aspects of this genre; so to hear some growls that have a set of bollocks on them is a refreshing and welcome addition.
Of course neither the musical or vocal chops would amount to much if the songwriting wasn’t up to snuff. Thankfully Obsidious already seem to have a good grasp on this key area, for the most part knowing when to be judicious with editing. I’d still trim a few songs here and there but to produce a 53 minute album in this style without boring me is quite the feat. If you want to know if this album’s for you the opening track will tell you all you need to know.
Touching on the full range of the band’s influences, ‘Under Black Skies’ acts as something of an overture for the rest of the record. We get the dizzying Dream Theatre leadwork, the filthy chug of Djent and the bubbling fretless bass of early Cynic and latter day Death. All capped off with a masterfully chameleonic vocal performance from Perera. This is 6 minutes of Progressive genre-hopping with a catchiness that elevates it above its niche source material.
‘Sense Of Lust’ isn’t quite as broad in its palette, but opts for a more muscular brutality, thuggishly channeling Meshuggah by way of Strapping Young Lad as chanted vocals collide with mechanical riffs and atonal soloing. This nastier approach is incredibly welcome and it is this aggression that anchors the album when the band go on their more florid flights of Prog-inspired fancy. ‘Devotion’ performs a similar function later on in the album, cleansing the palate between more indulgent numbers by bringing the King Kong riffing of Gojira to the party.
Album highlight ‘I Am’ transported me back in time by a decade as it ignited the memory of trying to digest and make sense of Devin Townsend’s bat-shit and obnoxiously heavy “Deconstruction” album, combining grit with grandeur and smashing my head off in the process. Despite being one of the compositions that could perhaps do with a bit of trimming, it also offers a great example of the band’s innate ability to write memorable hooks that cut through the chaos.
To conclude, this is an excellent starting point and although it still feels like a band feeling their way into a sound that’s uniquely their own, there’s enough evidence in their present powers of Prog alchemy to suggest that they’re not a million miles away from achieving their goal. There will be very few Metal releases that will match “Iconic” on a technical level this year, and even fewer that will hint at such a bright future. Album number 2 is where I feel things will really take off but this maiden effort contains more than enough fire and flashiness to hit the spot for anyone in need of some violent virtuosity in 2022.
‘Iconic’ Official Video
01. Under Black Skies
02. Sense Of Lust
04.Bound By Fire
05. Iron and Dust
06. I Am
10. Lake Of Afterlife
Linus Klausenitzer – Bass
Rafael Trujillo – Guitars
Sebastian Lanser – Drums
Javi Perera – Vocals
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