Developing a truly unparalleled sound is operose; it takes the right amount (but not an overabundance) of influence, an intense passion for musical craftsmanship, foresight, vision, and, most importantly, the courage to bring that vision to fruition. Every band who writes their own music naturally attempts to carve out their own sound niche, but inevitably, most bands end up sounding exactly like one or more of their influences, and while this all-too-common trend is understandable, it is admittedly still a little disappointing, no matter how logical.
Every so often, though, an act emerges that truly possesses what all bands lust after: a sound that is unequivocally unique. While genre labelling is a still a necessary evil for those of us who navigate these choppy waters known as music journalism, some bands manage to bend the boundaries of classification so masterfully that it becomes nearly pointless to label them as “just this” or “just that”.
Specifically, Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Obsequiae embodies these genre-defying traits to a tee. Although anyone with a fair knowledge of heavy metal wouldn’t hesitate to classify this seclusive trio’s music as black metal, this designation paints the picture with only the broadest of strokes. Nay, to simply label Obsequiae as black metal is to do this act a great disservice, for their music is much, much deeper, more evocative, and verily more resonant than “just black metal”.
While many thematic, musical, and production elements on The Palms of Sorrowed Kings – Obsequiae’s latest full-length release, out November 22nd on 20 Buck Spin – bear the familiar hallmarks of the black metal genre, this otherworldly three-piece applies multitudes of organically lush tones and chord progressions, medieval harp and stringed interludes, and lofty, almost spiritual interplays between the lead and rhythm guitars to create a sound that is atmospherically archaic, naturally ethereal, uniquely unmistakable – and all Obseqiuae’s own.
Picking up right where they left off on 2015’s remarkable Aria of Vernal Tombs, Obsequiae have put together another twelve tracks (seven full songs, five resplendent interludes) of such stunning quality and compositional perfection on their latest effort that it has left Hated One Metal Reviews wondering if perhaps the rating levels should go to eleven...
In total seriousness, though, The Palms of Sorrowed Kings is thoroughly deserving of the perfect rating it has received below. Not one thing about this album is lacking. Nothing. Each song blends seamlessly into the next, has its own mood and texture while still maintaining the general feel of the album as a whole, and although this is where a list of favorite track highlights would normally appear, to presume that one song may be better than any of the others on this album would be pure folly. In short, Obsequiae’s The Palms of Sorrowed Kings is one big highlight, savvy?
You can check out The Palms of Sorrowed Kings by pressing play below, and if you like what you hear, be sure to pick up a copy for your collection before the first batches are history! (Obsequiae’s prior release, Aria of Vernal Tombs, sold out of its initial vinyl pressings - and there’s no reason to think that The Palms of Sorrowed Kings won’t do the same, so get ‘em while the getting’s good!)
Rating: 10 / 10
Release Date: November 22nd, 2019 (20 Buck Spin)
Influences and Contemporaries: Summoning, Macabre Omen, Ars Moriendi, Nechochwen, Panopticon, The Ruins of Beverast, Véhémence, Flamen
Obsequiae Links: Obsequiae does not have an internet presence, but instead opt to let their music do their talking for them. You can purchase their albums and other merchandise through their label, 20 Buck Spin.