Obey have not exactly been hidden in the shadows of the UK metal scene in recent years, finding acclaim and success with increasing intensity but now the Midlands outfit is surely poised to really demand and receive major attention with the release of their new album, Swallow The Sun. Offering nine tracks of the band’s firmly individual fusion of heavy rock, groove metal, and doom bred intensity, though that only hints at the flavours involved and it all wrapped in progressive metal individuality, the band’s fourth full-length takes the listener on a creative and emotional journey shaped by fascinating imagination and potent craft.
Formed in 2008, Obey has established themselves with increasing success within the British metal scene live and across a trio of previous albums starting with their debut, New Day Rising in 2009. If that first release for the Staffordshire trio tickled strong attention, Doom Laden in 2012 and Maelstrom four years later gave it a bigger jab to reinforce a redoubtable reputation earned by their live prowess and successes. As suggested though Swallow The Sun is a proposition which swings a mighty dextrous hook at ears, swiftly revealing itself not only the band’s finest moment yet but a release which easily grabs attention away from the majority of releases to grace the year so far.
With ex- Generations and Molly Leigh drummer Ryan Gillespie completing the band’s current line-up alongside guitarist/vocalist Steve Pickin and guitarist/bassist Dan Ryder last year, Obey joined up with producer Sam Bloor at Lower Lane Studios to record Swallow the Sun and immediately the album takes a robust hand on ears with opener Back Home. Riffs straight away nag at the senses, they soon entangled in the sonic intimation of a solar thread of guitar. The band describe the album as a “sonic journey dealing with the cruelty of Dementia and the devastation it leaves, melding that together with themes of fantasy and folklore” and from its first few seconds there is a haunting dark hue to sound and atmosphere even as the track quickly collects its attributes to create tides of rhythmic and sonic enticement. Like the band’s sound is a blend of open styles skilfully united, the song is a web of textures as voracious and often predatory as they are melodic and frequently seductive; an encounter as unpredictable as it is captivating for a simply superb start to the album.
Drive follows and it too simply seizes ears from its first wiry throes before opening up its kaleidoscopic landscape, one tempestuous and as unsettled as it is creatively magnetic but a maelstrom of enterprise fluidly consuming and exciting ears. Classic hues join modern and progressive essences as the song blossoms by the twist and turn, Pickin’s vocals a strong and emotionally disturbed match for the cauldron of sounds around him. Both the opening pair of tracks has an inherent catchiness to them which is just as instinctive within next up Call Of The Judderman. Initially there is a common wiring between the third song and its predecessor, a core asylum of sonic endeavour but it soon unveils its own unique character and presence across three minutes of compelling confrontation.
Star Crusher takes the imagination on a swift heavy doom laden cruise across celestial space, its fuel imposing intensity before landing ears and appetite at the siren presence of Esmeralda And The Doom Blues. Instantly seductive verging on the salacious, the track soon reveals its medusa-esque heart in sound, endeavour, and threat whilst simply ambushing any possible resistance to its melodic bewitchment before the album’s title track romps across the senses and instincts with its flirtatious rock ‘n’ roll. Defiance to its bounce and swing was futile; submission to its virulent scheme unsurprisingly inevitable as the song rivalled and at times eclipsed the already thrilling escapade of the album so far.
A calmer air embraces ears next as The Mountain looms up, the song soon ensnaring them in its own commandingly creative lattice of guitar as rhythms manipulatively infest. Even so it is a less volatile proposition though it carries certain tempestuousness in its outstanding body of sound and imagination while snarls and wonderfully harasses the senses with its technical mastery and physical agility. Both tracks keep the lofty heights of the album in place with ease leaving Emerald Eyes to bring Swallow The Sun to a similarly fine close if it took a touch longer to elevate to the stature of other tracks.
It does though simply epitomise the band’s craft and imagination and the wonderful unpredictability of every essence making up one addictive album; Swallow The Sun announcing Obey as one seriously striking proposition.
Swallow The Sun is out now @ https://obeyuk.bandcamp.com/album/swallow-the-sun
Pete RingMaster 11/04/2019
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