Sunday 24 February 2013

Obsidian Kingdom - Mantiis

Album review by

When you think of Spain what initially comes to mind? You probably circle around bull fights, Picasso, Real Madrid football team, olive oil, sunshine, siestas, and now you should definitely add independent Spanish post-metal quintet Obsidian Kingdom to that list. For the most part, what you read on a press release you have to take with a pinch of salt, but when these guys boldly refer to their debut album 'Mantiis' as "a conceptual rock opera that flows through different genres" they are right on the money. In fact, this is actually an understatement and I can’t explain it any better than Obsidian Kingdom do themselves when they say "'Mantis' embarks the listener in an eerie musical trip, noted for the coherent exploration of a wide range of styles and emotions."
The beauty of 'Mantiis' therefore means fundamentally, it is one singular song that tells its gripping tale through 47 minutes and 14 genre-fusing tracks. While it's not exactly a rarity to see musicians audaciously merging genres together, sometimes the outcome ends up lacking innovation, flow and structure. 'Mantiis' is the antithesis of this. It's precise, creative, evolved and extraordinary in its own right. Tracks to look out for: the album opener 'Not Yet Five', a sombre and surreal, dark, dream-like track that drones instrumentation into your earholes, broken at what seems irregular intervals by an ear-piercing, wincing, screw-your-face-up-and-scrunch-your-shoulders static, that hits every nerve with a Marmite intensity that you’ll either love or hate (perhaps they based it on the views of current Real Madrid player Ronaldo).

'Oncoming Dark' –  think surprisingly lovely acoustic guitar strums, layered with Opeth vocals and harmonies plus Porcupine Tree style progressive rock beats in the background. The track escalates towards the end filling your mind with the clash of cymbals, frantic electric guitar, and a strong sense of percussion that flows straight into the next instrumental ridden track, 'Through the Glass', without pause for thought. If you want to know what it sounds like when an angry giant is being chased by a stampede of bulls, check out 'Cinammon Balls', it has every aspect of death/dark metal from the growling vocals to the distorted breakdown of heavy guitar riffs and blast-beat drumming to the varying tempo that leaves your mind feeling used and abused!

For mellower tracks, check out 'The Nurse'. It begins with an abstract array of eerie, whiny tone that is over layered by a constant, beautiful piano melody that liquidates the soul like an overdose of olive oil. This is the shortest track on the album but this doesn't take away its brilliance. This runs over to the next track 'Answers Revealing' with a skip in its step and a completely classical little moment until the rather enjoyable vocals sneak in with lyrics such as “faaaade awwaaaayyy”. Trust me, you won’t forget this song in a while. Go to 'Last Of The Light' for a daily dose of sunshine through jazz, have a siesta to 'Genteel to Mention' and, like an attack from the Spanish Armada, Obsidian Kingdom end 'Mantiis' with a bang in the closing song 'And Then It Is'. If you care to say "hola" to this album, (I recommend that you do) be prepared for every single one of your emotions to be fondled with, with a fierceness and a precision that when it comes down to good musicians, you just can't put a price on.

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