The Catalonian region of Spain has produced a progressive footprint in dark contemporary musical arts. Obsidian Kingdom have grown far from their heavier roots of extreme metal to draw on the influences of blackened shoe gaze, drone, techno ambiance and elements of space rock of the 70’s.
The band are not one to feel they should be genre categorised but influences do shine through. The darker side of grunge seeps into their sound and the band can stand alongside Alcest, Neurosis, Ulver, Sunn o))) without bowing their heads. There is also a little nod towards the mighty Killing Joke.
A Year With No Summer is the follow up to the darkly expressive Mantiis and its follow up; the stylistically dynamic remix album Torn & Burnt. A spectacularly bold concept album that included electronica, dub step, ambient and abstract Hip Hop to rewrite and expand on some of Mantiis’ content.
The opening and title track A Year With No Summer hints at the above mention influences. Walls of sound weave in looms of instrumental hooks and atmospheres. The song sets out the flavour of the six remaining tracks to come
Kristoffer Rygg of Ulver validates Obsidian Kingdom’s artistic credentials on the albums second track. Lending his tones to April 10th. A sustained drone that undulates into foreboding instrumental dominance.
Obsidian Kingdom also pulled in Hungarian musician Attila Csihar of Mayhem, he affiliates on the epic and industrially tainted abstraction of The Kandinsky Group. A song that seems to draw from Faith No More’s alternative rhythms and evolutions. Kandinsky Group also shows competence in electronica and a versatility in keys to bring dynamism to this and other tracks on the album.
Third track Darkness stands out to me as one of the albums strongest songs. It swells and undulates, contrasting between being strangely uplifting and disparaging, tugging on the darker aspects of the grunge movement.
Shadowy electronic lounge music becomes the surreal The Polyarnik and the tasty Black Swan builds soundscapes of progressive sophistication. Closer Away/Absent picks up the pace knocking techno tinged ambiance into guitar driven, bass inflicted peaks and troughs accompanied by blasting drum beats that drop into mellow moments that may not last.
Although Obsidian Kingdom cover dark themes in the record, it also hits on some sonic positivity. It is a treat to discover a new band, and a new band that opens up new genre avenues and branching pathways for their listeners to explore. There aren’t any disappointments in the concepts Obsidian Kingdom share with their audience, just strong melodically dark song writing.