Belgium's Enthroned ninth album Obsidium is upon us. Having survived the loss of its originator, Cernunnos, in 1997, the band continued to produce a consistently high quality of aggressive black metal. Granted, there have been albums where the quality may have been top notch but they have lacked force – their previous album, 2010's Pentagrammaton and 2001's Armoured Bestial Hell – but Obsidium tips the balance back in their favour. The production is phenomenal, the artwork is astounding, the song-writing is outstanding, and the musicianship is remarkable.
With all nine of the black metal atrocities being undeniably menacing, dark, and threatening, it's the nuances of each track that give the album an edge. Tremolo-picked riffs are juxtaposed with dissonant and slow-moving passages and layered with Nornagest's powerful mid-range, rusted throat emanations, passages of orchestrated chanting, and the occasional keyboard to enhance the barren aesthetic. For an example of the haunting power of chanting when contrasted with the darkness of black metal might, check out opener 'Sepulchred Within Opaque Slumber' or 'Petraolevm Salvia'. 'Horns Aflame' and 'Oracle ov Void' both feature a clean vocal by Nornagest that, although it's for only a few lines in each, adds weight to the track with a heavy air of dark ceremony; the keys and ritualistic vocal that pervade 'Oblivious Shades' are nothing short of disturbing, their menace lingering long after the album has finished; and the insistent melodies and sharp hooks are evidence of Enthroned's willingness to expand their sound without once compromising their identity.
What would otherwise have been an album of predictable structures and dynamic, Obsidium owes much to its production. From the detailed minutiae to the complete picture, every aspect of this album from the instrumentation to the delivery can be felt. Inspired, venomous, and richly dark in its exploration of unending shade, Obsidium is a phenomenal work. Highly recommended.
- Sepulchred Within Opaque Slumber
- Nonus Sacramentvm – Obsidium
- Horns Alfame
- Oblivious Shades
- The Final Architect
- Petraolevm Salvia
- Oracle ov Void
- Thy Blight Vacuum