It has to be said that when reading the introductory email from Spanish band Obsidian Kingdom and seeing them describe their debut album Mantiis as ‘a conceptual rock opera’ a keen shudder went from shoulder to shoulder and head to toe, though the following ‘that flows through different genres’ certainly intrigued. So after admittedly putting it off longer than we would have wished a plunge into its depths was made followed by a good kicking of oneself for not doing it sooner. Mantiis is exceptional, its sounds and formation far exceeding and different to expectations, and a release which has yet to escape a daily investigation.
The album is certainly a concept album though the rock opera tag does diminish its lure and misguide. Consisting of one piece of song split into fourteen seamlessly connecting pieces, Mantiis is magnetic to thoughts and compelling to the senses, its construction impressive and innovative. The tracks do work strongly as individual encounters but to reap the biggest rewards from the release and own thoughts, absorbing it in one fluid listen is essential. The album also as mentioned evolves through multiple styles and genres but with coherent and seamless transitions which swoop upon the ear with unannounced mastery and imagination. Obsidian Kingdom is described as a post-metal band with rich veins of progressive rock and experimental invention but as the album reveals even that expansive description is limiting to the stunning creativity going on. Consisting of Rider G Omega (guitars and vocals), Prozoid Zeta JSI (guitars), Zer0 Æmeour Íggdrasil (keys and vocals), Fleast Race O’Uden (bass), and Ojete Mordaza II (drums), the Barcelona based band has built on and evolved from their previous EPs, Matter of 2007and 3:11 of 2010, to create their most ambitious project yet with the Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia) mastered Mantiis.
The release opens with the chilled ambience of Not Yet Five, its singular breath alone within a brewing rasping intensity. As the bass carves its melancholic presence within the haunting keys and cold ambience the guitars sculpt an indistinct yet mesmeric image in thoughts, their sound and emotive intent reminding of The Cure around their second album. As a tempestuous shadow looms nearer well into the track a sense of foreboding is thick enough to taste yet is held back to seemingly dissipate as Oncoming Dark takes over the narrative. Driven by a wonderfully acoustic guitar core and similarly persuasive clean Peter Gabriel like vocals, the track has a Latin embrace to its rock stroll and melodic flames. It is a sensational piece and only the first of so many. Igniting its urgency for a rousing climax it evolves into the crystalline entrance of Through the Glass where again melodic enterprise and sonic endeavour make the warmest wrap. Richly infectious and equally incendiary to mental imagery, something which evolves itself during each companionship with the album, the piece of music offers a classic metal fire with King Diamond like lining. Three tracks in and already the release has drawn on the essences of a varied seed base, with the following blackened Cinnamon Balls with rasping serpentine black metal vocals framing the emerging tale and its technical metal coaxing, just another thrilling shift in stance, flavour, and imagination.
The temptation to go through every track is irresistible but with restraint in place as we go on, further expressive highlights in nothing but stunning invention throughout the album, come in firstly Last of the Light. It is a carefully forged merger of harshly driven erosion vocally and seductive enthralment melodically which shifts from a grasping toxic rough caress through a piano framed emotive elegance with guitar heat burning wonderfully, to a jazz hearted exploration of the heart. Haunts of the Underworld is another charmer which ignites intense ardour, its compelling beauty and peaceful yet energetic beckoning paced by shadows which open their arms into a fiery intensity which captivates rather than approaching as a violent transgressor.
The closing moment of the album is arguably its greatest success, though choice of best track shifts from listen to listen. Starting with a rhythmic military ‘two-step’, Ball-Room entices with folk metal fingertips before releasing more black metal toxins into its deliciously expressive breast. Blending in melodic rock hooks and power metal like energy, as well as great clean vocals alongside the insidious caustic graze, it is an outstanding and irresistible dance which moves into the equally stunning closing piece, And Then it Was, which continues in the same formidable and diverse vein whilst offering its own individual nuances and imagination.
Mantiis is nothing like you are imagining, even now, but an album which will elevate you to a satisfaction and bliss only a few releases each year is capable of. Obsidian Kingdom has just become a lustful favourite here.
Get Mantiis free from http://obsidiankingdom.bandcamp.com/album/mantiis
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