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Obsidian Tide - The Grand Crescendo review

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Band: Obsidian Tide
Album: The Grand Crescendo
Release date: September 2023

01. Clandestine Calamities
02. Beyond
03. The Invasion On Paradise
04. Halo Crvsher
05. The Undying Flames [feat. Nimrod Adar]
06. The Field Of Reeds
    1 - Part I - Far From The Sun
    2 - Part II - The Riverbed
    3 - Part III - Paradise Of Deceit
07. Miracles (The Field Of Reeds Part IV) [feat. Roy Chen]

It seems that the Obsidian Tide has turned, which I'm sure you'll be pleased to know if the softer side of progressive metal suits your tastes.

Fairly new to the progressive metal scene are the Israeli band Obsidian Tide, with their newly released sophomore release The Grand Crescendo following their highly impressive debut Pillars Of Creation from 2019. Obsidian Tide perform as a trio featuring Oz Avneya (guitars/vocals), Erez Nadler (drums), and Shachar Bieber (bass/vocals), although on The Grand Crescendo they're joined by session musician Danielle Sassi (flute/ney), as well as guest musicians Roy Chen (drums) and Nimrod Adar (contrabass). With this roster, you can expect a wide variety of instruments whilst delving into this release.

Now, to begin with, an awful lot needs to be taken into consideration to really make a progressive metal/rock album work, especially when it clocks in at an hour in length; obviously, the most important element is the songwriting, which needs to keep you intrigued and guessing, and has to have a certain level of complexity and unpredictability for this to work. You obviously don't want to lose yourself in something that is overly complex to the point it simply becomes irritating, and at the same time, you don't want it to become repetitive to the point that you become bored. The second important factor is the production: you can have the most superbly written album imaginable, with wonderful captivating melodies, excellent instrumentation, and profoundly poetic lyrics that bring a tear to your eye, but a poor quality production could undermine even the best songwriting for some listeners. So, the important question we have here is, have Obsidian Tide succeeded in these departments? Well, the answer for me is undoubtedly yes.

What's most intriguing for me about The Grand Crescendo is the striking level of both metal and rock. Whereas the debut perhaps focused more on the metal aspects, this release has almost done the opposite. Here, the band have ultimately decided to slightly lean more in the direction towards classic progressive rock, featuring lengthier soft acoustic passages and more use of clean vocals, with a reduced focus on the progressive metal elements such as heavier riff patterns and harsh vocals. Understandably, this may not appeal to the more hardened listeners, but within this lengthy running time, there are certainly no shortage of both variants. The album starts off containing an equal measure of both rock and metal with varying degrees of rhythmic and instrumental complexity; the first two tracks "Clandestine Calamities" and "Beyond" are mostly in the vein of Dream Theater (albeit with occasional growls being present).

The third track, "The Invasion On Paradise", is where things start to get all the more interesting. From the track's outstanding guitar solo midway through, to the heavy-to-soft sections and beautifully constructed acoustic melodies at the beginning and end, it's certainly one of the most diverse tracks the album offers. "Halo Crvsher" follows, and is a clear highlight of the album for me, beginning with a much heavier Opeth-style approach featuring harsh growls, along with striking melodic leads and riffs that are suddenly interrupted by slow acoustic sections featuring hauntingly soft clean vocals. The style here goes back and forth from heavy to soft, the rhythm and tempo vary drastically, and even the flute has a presence throughout the track while never sounding out of place). It's an unpredictable song with many twists and turns, but despite its constant interrupted rhythm and tempo, the flow always remains satisfying. Try to imagine this track as a cross between Jethro Tull, Dream Theater, and Opeth if you can, and hopefully you'll get the picture.

Another highlight for me is the following song, "The Undying Flames", which features some of the album's best guitar work in the form of its solos; the bass also has a powerful presence, which along with the rhythmic d-beats helps contribute towards the groovy rhythm section. However, by the end of the track, the guitar work just seems to wander off slightly into jamming session mode; don't get me wrong, it's still enjoyable to listen to, but it perhaps feels like a little too much showboating is going on at that point.

To close the album off, there are four parts split into two songs, the first being the epic three-part, thirteen-minute "The Field Of Reeds". It begins in a classic King Crimson-meets-Jethro Tull kind of fashion, with flute playing, soft acoustic melodies, and folkish clean singing, but then you're met by faster tempo sections with heavy melodic riffs and growls. This track represents progressive at its most progressive, where each musician involved shows outstanding musical capabilities. The fourth and final part of "The Field Of Reeds" is a standalone track "Miracles (The Field Of Reeds Part IV)", which, as a closer, I feel slightly lets the album down. The softer acoustic parts tend to wander too much, becoming repetitive and running dry towards the end; this is a common issue I find on several songs throughout the album, but particularly here. It's these softer sections, along with overuse of clean vocals, that perhaps make it harder to justify the album's running length; if they were to hold back a little on the softer sections, and perhaps introduce more heavy riffs, it might better suit hardened metal listeners. On the other hand, if you prefer a classic progressive rock approach, then this style may comfort you.

All in all, Obsidian Tide make a solid attempt at blending together classic progressive rock influences with modern progressive metal elements, which works really well as a whole. Despite the issues I found, which I believe could be easily addressed, this is a monumental effort on the trio's part. There are some fine quality moments that should really put this trio on the modern progressive map, and I very much look forward to seeing where they go on from here.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 9

Written on 02.10.2023 by Feel free to share your views.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 74 users
03.10.2023 - 20:37

As an early DT fan and considering the review i have to listen to this one, just have to thanks !
03.10.2023 - 20:41
Rating: 8
A Nice Guy
Written by DarkWingedSoul on 03.10.2023 at 20:37

As an early DT fan and considering the review i have to listen to this one, just have to thanks !

It's definitely worth checking out, there's a few DT influences in here as well as many other progressive metal bands. So hopefully you'll like it

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