Lay Siege – Obolus

In what has been a constant stream of British metalcore and extreme metal releases so far this year Obolus the debut mini album from UK metalers Lay Siege, emerges as one of the most impressive. Though the release does not breakout with anything truly stunning, it powerfully indicates greater promise ahead and stands as a strongly enjoyable and commanding release which is heads above a great many of the similar veined releases to appear over the past few months.

Northampton based quartet Lay Siege since forming in 2010, have taken no time in becoming a force in the Midlands underground metal scene lighting up stages alongside bands like Devil Sold His Soul, Feed the Rhino, ACODA, Heart of a Coward, Carcer City, and While She Sleeps. This year will see them venturing further throughout the UK and into Europe which with the release of Obolus as their newest part of their armoury, makes it not beyond expectations to imagine them rising and growing higher in stature.

Obolus certainly marks them as a band with real strength in their sound and songwriting. As mentioned the release gives the suggestion of promise and greater things ahead but it is impossible not to recognise the musicianship and craft going on already. Starting with Explorer the album confronts the senses with towering riffs and titanic rhythms linked by intricate yet unexaggerated technical ability. The opener bundles through the ear with a greed and power to leave one gasping. The track is not rippling with originality but has a freshness and vibrancy which is open. Musically the song skirts through multiples avenues of ideas without lingering in any to make an unpredictable riot of sound.

The following storm The Ferryman worries and oppresses the bruises caused by its predecessor whilst treating the ear to further inventive melodic and imaginative creativity of the band. It attacks in a similar vein but with good variation under its surface to make for another excellent three minutes. Many have accused the release of having too much similarity across its length and one can understand that with the overall bruising encounter it offers but that just makes for an album which needs closer attention and focus than most to find its rewards and bubbling invention beneath the storm.

Snarling Teeth prowls and taunts the ear with more explosive rhythms from drummer Lewis Niven and hungry basslines from Dave Bartlett. The track has a Pantera/sludge groan to its weight which ignites a deeper infection, the vocals of Konrad Barrick splattering the ear with bile and tortured expression alongside the taunting mesmeric dark shadowed play of guitarist Jamie Steadman. All the songs loiter around the three minute mark and work well at that length, punchy and crisp in presence but this is the one time one groans as it lays down its last note, the pleasure it brings making one not only wanting but needing it to linger around much longer. The song confirms the thought that the delivery of Barrick maybe lacks enough diversity across the seven tracks, great though he is, but it is a minor issue here with the qualities of the songs but ahead might become a problem for some but we will see.

Glitches and Wastelands continue the bombardment and explosive engagement with equally impressive effect, the band showing further skill and spread of good ideas to their music. The dexterity and thought shown by the band in all aspects is striking and sets the band apart from other new extreme metal bands.

Obolus is a definite grower, a release which consumes and evolves within the affections at a slower rate than most but to a deeper effect. After a few plays the release drew full praise but as the album exposed its might more and more that positivity grew in to a full affection. Yes the album has limitations and hides its individualism a little too deeply but it also marks Lay Siege as a band with a mighty future if they progress and explore themselves even deeper.

Closing with the combative Solitary Confinement further crushing the senses, Obolus is a fine and impressive debut. Lay Siege is a band on the rise and we for one cannot wait for their next assault.

RingMaster 01/08/2012

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