Obsidyen - Litany Of Iah review
|Album:||Litany Of Iah|
|Release date:||November 2023|
01. Ceux Qui Viennent D'en Haut
02. Litany Of Iah
03. An Ancient Age
04. The Passenger Of Nout
05. The Eternal Confinement
Aliens built the pyramids and taught the Mayans their language. Ok, fine. But answer me this: can the aliens play black metal too?
Obsidyen are a band that hail from France. Their music, however, is from the stars, albeit via a detour through Egypt. Let me explain.
Whenever I'm discovering new music, I'm always on the lookout for a unique story, a unique subject matter. Thus, after spotting that ancient Egyptian-themed cover art including reptile humanoids, flying saucers, and little Martian caricatures, I had to give the album a listen. Obsidyen’s Litany Of Iah has a lyrical theme centered around the “ancient astronaut theory” (I recommend reading Erich von Däniken's Chariots Of The Gods or watching the great documentary film). The basic idea is that, in the early days of human civilization, Earth was visited by an advanced alien species, who ruled over mankind for a time and bestowed knowledge upon us. Thus, remarkable relics of ancient times such as the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, the Moai of Easter Island, and the extremely advanced and expansive knowledge of the Mayans (see the surviving Mayan Codices) can be explained through the intervention of ancient aliens. In addition, the worship of gods in various mythologies and religions (including Christianity, according to some proponents) can be attributed to this impactful and traumatic encounter with such advanced lifeforms.
Funnily enough, these theories have similarities with some of Lovecraft's stories: primordial mankind enslaved to elder gods from the stars, primal fear originating from ancient alien encounter, etc. As a result, Obsidyen’s lyrics about an alien reptile race invariably remind me of Lovecraft's stories such as The Nameless City or Nile’s song “Von unaussprechlichen Kulten”. Add to that song titles referencing Egyptian deities Iah (god of the moon), Nout (goddess of the sky), and Apophis (a giant serpent embodying darkness and chaos). Thus, Obsidyen’s lyrical theme ends up being an entertaining mix of science fiction, Egyptian mythology, and Lovecraftian horror.
Musically, Obsidyen play a rather fluid style of black metal, bordering on blackened death during aggressive moments and leaning somewhat into post-black territories during more atmospheric instances. The album begins with two minutes of eerie ambience, fittingly titled “Ceux Qui Viennent D'en Haut” (“Those Who Come From Above”). Here one hears some female vocals that make occasional appearances throughout the rest of the album. The next two songs display fast-paced blackened death metal with hair-raising tremolo-picking, frenzied percussion, and an excellent vocal performance of agonized snarls. The lead guitar riffs create a mesmerizingly frightening vortex of uneasy and oppressive sensations, perfectly conveying the creepy, mysterious past of bygone alien encounters.
As one journeys through the tracklist, the songs get progressively longer, but also progressively improve in quality. In my opinion, the last three songs, each exceeding the nine-minute mark, are the highlights of the album. Right off the bat, “The Passenger Of Nout” features some exquisitely melodic guitar-work as well as (around the five-minute mark) presenting an enjoyable overlap of hard-hitting percussion and soaring, eerie riffs. At the end of the track, the guitars make way for the haunting moaning of a female vocalist, which provides an unsettling transition over to the next song. “The Eternal Confinement” and “Apophis” also have their fair share of uneasy atmosphere and thunderous groove—just listen to the 6:23-minute mark on “Eternal Confinement” and the 9:57-minute mark on “Apophis” for some really headbang-inducing riffing.
In conclusion, Obsidyen’s flavor of black metal delivers imposing and extremely enjoyable musicianship, rich with both unnerving ambience and blistering guitar playing, all backed by an oppressive, gnarly vocal performance and a thought-provoking theme. According to the bandcamp page of their record label, the band plan to make a trilogy of albums, Litany Of Iah being the first installment. Well, whatever mythologies and crushing black metal the sequel has in store, I can't wait to find out!
||Written on 18.11.2023 by The sign of good music is the ability to both convey and trigger emotion.|
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