With the exceptional 2012 album White Lightnin’ thrusting its creators upon the doom/sludge metal map it is fair to say that anticipation for its successor was hunger driven. The third album Hymn To Pan from German metallers Obelyskkh more than satisfies that craving, offering six expansive sonic and heavily boned consumptions which in some ways continue where their predecessors left off but have evolved and stretched their melodic abrasive teachings to new intense and hue drenched levels. It is an album which steals attention with ease and ignites the imagination for expressive senses scorching ventures, and though after numerous traverses of its impacting soundscape it arguably remains slightly in the shadow of the previous release, the record is a beautifully sculpted and inventively delivered acidic treat.
Founded in 2008 as a project for guitarist Torsten (ex- The Walruz and Vs. The Stillborn-Minded) to explore his ideas and invention with the help of friend Adi, the band nevertheless grew and took on its own expansive destiny. First came the addition of bassist Steffen from seminal German stoner rock band Desert Sun, who after time moved to the drums with multi-instrumentalist David taking over the four stringed exploits. Though still not intended as a fully operational band the release of debut album Mount Nysa in 2011 seemed to trigger something for Obelyskkh. Sold out within three weeks and covered in strongly positive responses, the album was just one fire erupting at the time as a 2-minutes live footage clip of the band on YouTube led the band to be inundated with interest and offers from promoters in Germany and other European countries and subsequently into an exhaustive period of shows and festivals appearances. Last year saw the Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Eyehategod, High On Fire, Melvins) recorded White Lightnin’ unleashed to mass acclaim and fervour. It was a startling release which brought new blood and flavour to the doom/stoner/sludge scene, though as with the new album it offered plenty more varied appetisers for the passions too.
The second album through Exile On Mainstream, Hymn To Pan is an even more aggressive and cutting encounter compared to the last, its breath bordering a battle cry and its intensity warlike though equally the depth of melodic temperance and emotive depths are as evocative and enthralling as ever. The title track dawns with a morning song of birds and fresh air before horns call the attention and physical intent of the world. Slowly awakening with rhythms stretching their energy and invitation, the track soon has sinews fully flexed with riffs adding war paint to the experience and mass vocals combining in a feisty union. The sonic colour of the guitars brings greater imagery and intensity to the piece sparking the imagination to add its own potent additional narrative. As mentioned it all feels like an awakening to a riveting conflict not only of a violent nature but of a harsh and demanding realm, and makes for a mighty hook into the rest of the album.
The Ravens emerges from the shadows next with a much more predacious attitude and weight to its stalking, riffs oppressive and strikingly heavy as they encase the ear in inescapable menace before allowing a breath to be taken through a reassuring melodic temptation. It is short lived as the band continues their thick doom fuelled tsunami of noise and intensity. The vocals also find a rapacious snarl and intimidation to match the enveloping sound, the unrelenting toxicity of the track veined by seductive melodic teasing and sonic tales. It is a scintillating funereal prowl which offers enough to intrigue and keep things fresh but equally has the restraint to force its triumph deeper with repetition and drone clad beauty.
Littered with telling samples, The Man Within takes mere moments to spark greater ardour, its malevolence of sound and vocal attack fearsome and invigorating. The track has an insatiable rabidity which borders on brutality at times, certainly a ruinous intent, whilst the bass and guitars spin a merciless steel web of sonic and voracious violence within another uncompromising and thrilling rhythmic cage.
From the highest pinnacle of the album forged by the previous two songs, the likes of Heavens Architrave and Horse build upon the already entrenched satisfaction with their individual presences, the first a more merciful embrace rife with a tonic of melodic enticement and great vocal beckoning, though still skirted by the damning rapacity already scarring the senses, whilst its successor from opening with a sample from the movie Warriors, employs a leisurely hunt upon the ear before savagely adding further violation with barbarous hostility. With grooves scorching flesh and the throaty sonic poison seeping through every pore the song is a masterful tempest.
Final track Revelation: The Will To Nothingness is a twenty minute plus behemoth, an evolving beast which is in no hurry to explore its narrative and give the senses any form of peace. A raw and ravaging vehemence from the off with a death spawned growl vocally and musically, the song moves through its own unique and aggravated world. Heightened flames of melodic sultriness and sonic heat coax the imagination in further as they take over the journey before things further twist and change throughout the lengthy soundscape. For personal tastes the track does out stay its welcome in parts and in a condensed state might have made a stronger impact, though equally it could lose the potency it has. It is nevertheless an enriching conclusion to another triumph from Obelyskkh. Admittedly passions are still lit up more by White Lightnin’ to be honest, but Hymn To Pan is undoubtedly one of the finest doom fuelled stoner lit metal exploits this year and more everyone’s full attention.
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