Three quarters of Obsidious are former members of German technical death metal masters Obscura. So, it’s hardly surprising to find their debut release under the Obsidious banner to be an intricate and musically impressive piece of work. Joined by vocalist Javi Perera, Iconic is a 53-minute delight, full of intensity and complex yet accessible works that may well capture wider appeal than their former paymasters.
However, you may not feel that from opener “Under Black Skies”, one of three video singles released in the lead up to Iconic’s release. The bpm count on Lanser’s drumming remains ludicrously high, and Rafael Trujillo’s guitar work is phenomenally technical while Javi Perera shows a dynamic range, switching effortlessly from growling death metal roars to soaring cleans. It’s evident, even early in the album, that the band have drawn deep from the likes of progressive icons Dream Theater, Devin Townsend, Meshuggah, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Protest the Hero, Periphery, and Haken in moving to the next level of progressive metal. The integration of small symphonic elements and the switch in vocal styles makes a difference, changing the feel of the song several times as it manoeuvres through its technical waters.
Although the quartet were unable to meet during the crafting of the album, due to the pandemic, there’s no lack of cohesion throughout. Tracks such as “Sense of Lust” draw deep on the deep groove of the music; uncomfortable in parts and with a dark atmosphere. There’s a heaviness amongst the album that dismisses speed or aggression but opts for a more of an oppressive flavour which suffocates and cloaks. In particular, the huge bass notes on “Sense of Lust” rain down, crushing, and imperious.
Elsewhere the band combine with breathless speed, with Trujillo demonstrating a dexterity level of the highest order. The sheer pace and power on the title track for example, sees the band link into an unstoppable machine which is programmed to indestructible levels!
What’s refreshing about Iconic is that the band have pushed their creative boundaries, rather than just recreating former glories. The core of what they are is rooted into their previous styles, but there is a creativity within the album that encapsulates the band’s unique sound. Whether it’s the deviation to more standard metal or the variation in Perera’s singing, there is something more to embrace and explore. Passages of calm lucidity stand shoulder to shoulder with savage, explosive segments which rip out of the speaker with visceral intensity.
Unafraid to tackle a wide range of topics, you’ll find no dungeons and dragons hidden away here. Instead, real subject matter is front and centre. BDSM is rarely discussed in the metal world, yet here it is on “Sense of Lust”. Dementia is covered in the title track, in some ways because of Perera’s job in healthcare. “This album does not have a concept per se in terms of lyrics or an underlying storyline,” he says. “The songs on this album touch on subjects of diverse nature, and there are even some songs that narrate personal experiences. But what I can consider as a common denominator in the album is the absence of constraints on a compositional or stylistic level, allowing us the freedom to shift between different musical genres as long as the song requires it”.
Unsurprisingly, Iconic has the necessary high-quality production needed to capture the sonic soundscapes created by Obsidious – with Triptykon’s V Santura in the producer’s chair, there is a polished yet organic feel to the album. From the soaring, Devin Townsend style feel of “I Am”, the robust, muscular “Iron & Dust” and the echoing melodies of album closer “Lake of Afterlife”, the music is perfectly delivered. Full of hooks, groove and with an extremely high level of expertise, Iconic is an album that will challenge many. Yet, if you get it, it should provide hours of enjoyment as you unpick the songs one by one. 8/10
Obsidious‘ Iconic was released on 28th October on Season of Mist