Give the recent resurgence of doom groups, it’s good to find a band who are completely up for as much bonkers experimentation as possible.
Obelyskkh (with two Ks) are on a serious one-band mission to cram as much crazy into one package. They are also ridiculously, obscenely heavy – like Sleep would be if they were made of granite and badgers.
Just as Doom is ferociously and immutably rooted in the past, so are Obelyskkh in complete awe of all things gloriously vintage. Hymn To Pan is prog-worshipping doom. Whilst it doesn’t perhaps ‘progress’ doom as much as their theremin-widdling brethren in the prog world, their reverence adds a depth to their sound which makes them a much more intricate listen than if they’d settled for the heaviness to drive the album. Lines of instrumentation flitter in and out of the mighty riffs, sometimes in quite startling contrast; the horns(!) and birdsong(!!) of the opening track Hymn To Pan set the mood of an eclectic album which promises delicate moments amongst the monolithic, invasive riffs.
The opening track also sets the mood as nature-centric, an important feature of the album as it calls for a review of the genre’s reliance on rawness. By incorporating elements of nature into their songs, Obelyskkh have given their record an organic feel. Unlike black metal’s connection with nature, which is usually nihilistic and with a focus on humanity’s opposition, Hymn to Pan feels earthy and solid; almost positive. It feels impish and high-spirited, just as a tribute to a mischievous forest spirit should be. This tone alone sets it apart from its peers.
This tone is continued through following tracks The Ravens and The Man Within particularly standing out, though as the album progressed there are more Electric Wizard-esque voice-overs and samples, contrasting some of the natural elements with an oppressive, antagonistic feel. This could so easily have failed and yet the two elements complement each other fantastically; the effect is enthralling and one of the biggest selling points of the album.
Many moons ago I reviewed Obelyskkh’s previous offering, White Lightnin’ and found that their influences hadn’t been given time to be properly aired out. I loved the experimentation but found it was swamped by ideas without any kind of direction. Here almost the opposite is true; the album is gloriously self-indulgent, sparking off at every available opportunity with some new reference point or something bizarre, but the whole thing is kept tight and the songwriting has got much sharper. Testament to this is the closing track, the 23-minute Revelation – The Will To Nothingness which holds back at the end, only to return with a haunting, smoother instrumental to see the album out. Such a long track (even for doom) makes the listener completely lose their bearings on first listen, so the instrumental is genuinely unexpected. Such a great farewell from a band who’ve really got their shit together.
I’m overjoyed that this album is such a success. If you like riffs and you mistrust the flashy widdlings of whatever the kids are listening to, this album will be your friend.
If you’re bored by the repetition of modern doom then this will resonate perfectly. If you’re neither of the above then you’re likely on the wrong site.