Obsequiae - Aria of Vernal Tombs 01Minnesota’s medieval enthusiasts Obsequiae emerged from the ashes of Autumnal Winds and created an immediate impact in the underground metal scene with their exhilarating debut Suspended in the Brume of Eos. The album was a finely composed tapestry of pagan/folk influences, enchanting medieval melodies and raspier black metal elements that was a mystical, haunting and extremely catchy listening experience. Now nearly four years following the debut, the trio of Tanner Anderson (guitars, bass, vocals), drummer Andrew Della Cagna and Spanish musician Vicente La Camera Mariño have written a monumental follow-up that takes their musical vision to its next logical progression, while retaining the qualities that made Suspended such an exciting triumph. No stone has been left unturned in the expert craftmanship of Aria of Vernal Tombs, clearly defining the artistic growth the band has shown during the intervening years between albums.

The trademark folk melodies waltz in perfect harmony with Obsequiae’s earthy and melodic black metal roots, enriching their music with stronger melodies and tighter musicianship. Mariño’s use of a medieval harp is beautifully integrated, complimenting the band’s continual progression during carefully orchestrated passages and sombre interludes like opener “Ay Que Por Muy Gran Fremosura” and penultimate track “Des Oge Mais Quer Eu Trobar.” His expert use of the instrument adds further authenticity to Obsequiae’s medieval-rooted vision, enhancing the aged feel and mystical atmosphere of the album. However, the robust beating heart of the Obsequiae sound is once again represented by Anderson’s mesmerizing guitar melodies. His triumphant and intricate leads and harmonies course through the album in all their emotive and catchy glory, bringing a ray of hope to the album’s dreary tone and enlivening the mostly mid-tempo gallop of the material. Anderson’s memorable guitar work is expertly fleshed out by warm bass harmonies and tight and expressive drumming which favors nuance over one-dimensional blasting. It’s a winning combination that sounds all the more confident and evolved on this assured second outing.

Everything on Aria of Vernal Tombs sounds more sophisticated without losing the feverish energy and excitement Obsequiae generated on their debut.  Beyond the song-writing advancements, Obsequaie have matured and solidified into a far more confident unit, even down to the smaller details such as song pacing and album sequencing. And while the black metal elements conjure up images of enchanted forests and eerie shadows distorted by piercing rays of sunlight, rather than corpse painted loonies riding horseback through snowy battlefields, the album certainly doesn’t skimp on the heavy. Instead Obsequiae rely more on emotional weight, smart dynamics and alternately bleak and uplifting melodies to engage the listener.

Obsequiae - Aria of Vernal Tombs 02

Wide in scope and featuring impressive song-writing dynamics, Aria of Vernal Tombs is a remarkably consistent collection that works best as an album experience, with each song standing tall when isolated individually as well. Anderson’s hoarse, echoing rasps bleed emotion and despair on the bleak march of “Pools of Vernal Paradise,” a stellar tune that intertwines all the signature Obsequiae song-writing ingredients into one epic and harrowing journey. The sombre tones of “Autumnal Pyre,” anchored by heart-wrenching melodies and bursts of speed, and the dirgey march and serpentine guitar and bass harmonies of closer “Orphic Rites of the Mystic” are just a couple of notable highlights on an album full of memorable moments and top-notch song-writing. Folk metal often gets suffocated by excess layers of cheese and bombast but Obsequaie sidestep typical genre pitfalls with strong blackened overtones and a harsher vocal approach to compliment their hypnotic brand of dark metal. I’m struggling to find any significant drawbacks here, with the sonic improvements also worthy of high praise. Although not as raw or dynamic as its predecessor, Aria of Vernal Tombs features a far richer, fuller sound with warm organic tones and an uncluttered mix.

Aria of Vernal Tombs represents a supreme example of how to retain the core values of a well received debut, while strengthening and progressing an established formula without severing the crucial threads that drew listeners in to begin with. There’s been a number of turds masquerading as art forms floating around the AMG Offices of late, dutifully exposed and taken down by some of our esteemed writers. Thankfully Obsequaie have crafted a majestic album to extinguish the stench and realign the trajectory.

Rating: 4.5 /5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Websites: ObsequiaeOfficial | Facebook.com/Obsequiae
Release Dates: EU: 2015.05.11 | NA: 05.26.2015

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  • El_Cuervo

    Hadn’t heard of these guys before. But this sounds amazing based on the 3 songs they have thus far released.

  • Love the guitar work! Almost sounds like melodic doom with black metal vocals.

    • scorpion

      Alcest on a steroids?

  • Iliast

    Have been anxiously awaiting this release.

  • Kreegwaldo

    Holy.Shit. This is fucking amazing! Just pre-ordered. Thanks for reviewing this! I love being exposed to new shit like this that comes out of left field and blows me away.

    • Kreegwaldo

      The full album has been released and my response is still: Holy.Shit. This is fucking amazing! What a fantastic album, I thought it couldn’t get much better than the 3 preview tracks and every single song on this album is an absolute treasure. This is seriously up in my top 5 albums of all time, I don’t know if music can get any better than this honestly, and it may have ruined me for any future music I listen to.

      If you were ever some how on the fence about buying the whole album JUST DO IT

  • Grymm

    Good LORD, this is some good shit!

    • Óðinn

      Fuck yeah!

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Holy shitballs! Must. Have. This.

    Great review as well dude.

    • Luke_22

      Thanks man. The debut was great but this is next level shit here. Definitely one of my favorites of the year so far. Right up there with Voices (I’m going off the NA release date for that one).

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Yeah, the Voices album is still amazing.

        I need to check this one out on full.

  • Never heard of them, but the embedded song really hooked me in. It helps I’m into this sort of melodic doom whatever these days, but I guess it’s still amazing objectively speaking.

  • Lasse Momme

    that guitar sound is so fat, they made a terrible movie about it in which Martin Lawrence dressed up as a black guitar. Or something.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Really digging the promo track. It sounds old in an “awesome 90s record everyone missed” way but not at all stale. Quality stuff, really nice production, great writeup…an all-around win!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    What a unique sound, with such wonderfully sinuous melodies. I listened to the three tracks available on Bandcamp, and they’re all great.

    The opening track reminded me of an old favourite recording of mine — “The Harp of Ludovico” by Andrew Lawrence-King. I recommend it if that kind of music appeals to you, though apparently Lawrence-King is playing a baroque harp, not a medieval harp.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, and the last two sentences of your great review are especially golden. : )

  • Malev Draizhen

    Idk… the guitar melodies aren’t really that kvlt

  • Wilhelm

    !!!!!!! I’m so happy to see this reviewed, Suspended in the Brume of Eos was such a great album. I’m still hearing Opeth’s “Morningrise” as a big influence, thankfully.

  • This is heavy in a very unconventional way. This will join Marras, Disemballerina and Nebelung in the chill-out playlist

    • Feytalist

      Marras (and Sarastus) and Nebelung is, along with Nest, in constant rotation on my side. Never heard of Disemballerina before, but on the strength on the other two, I’ll definitely give it a try.

      Along with Obsequiae, because this band is just amazing.

      • Yes Disemballerina it’s really good, I first heard of them thanks to the amazing Natalie Zed I think. They have a new one incoming, but Undertaker is a true gem. I have surprised many non-metalhead friends with it.

        • basenjibrian

          OK. I am not sure I would place Disemballerina in the same subgenre as Obseq, given that they are really a neoclassical group with a doom metal spirit!
          And, this has to be one of the WORST band names ever.
          But UNDERTAKER has been on continuous play since I read Hell3’s kudos. It reminds me of a more doomy, less wandering Amber Asylum, or the other San Francisco “doom metal cello scene” bands like Giant Squid.
          Thanks for the reco! Great stuff!

  • Wow. An Album to sink the ‘ol teeth into for sure.

  • OzanCan

    HOLY CRAP!!! I need more music like this in my life…

  • Rob

    Getting a Drudkh vibe from this…liking it a lot.

  • Worldeater

    Allthough i´m rather on the deep and growling side of the vox fence the vocals have kind a van drunen vibe and will grow on me with time. The instrumentation is intriguing to say the leasts. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  • Antoine Roth

    Oh man I love this so much. You must probably know the Austrian band Abigor. I love their early records (4 first ones) and I get a great Abigor vibe here, even though it’s still very original. This makes me so happy, I hadn’t heard something like that in forever, and it’s freakin’ brilliant! Thanks for the review :).

  • Noobhammer

    I can’t even begin to describe the feels this album gives me. Every time I listen to it, I just can’t help to nod my head along with the galloping riffs, forcing to me to raise up the invisible grapefruit of power as I get swept up in this medieval majesty. “Anlace and Heart” is my favorite song on the album for me. It just reeks of pure emotion and heart. It reminds me of something off of Dark Tranquillity’s “Skydancer”.

    Seriously though, I have not been able to stop spinning this album, for it has filled a niche long thought unfillable. It blends that beauty of early melo-death with the grimness of black metal. It’s soaring guitars just transport me to not only another time, but also another realm. It’s just perfection for me.

    • Luke_22

      Glad you enjoyed this album so much, it truly is a special release.

  • Karmazov

    I’m really happy with all the great Minnesotan releases coming out as of late. It’s nice to know that my home state has some great metal brewing within its frigid boundaries.

  • Requiem

    The first 3 mins of this album felt like they went on for several decades… o.o in the best way possible… I’m so in love with the ethereality of it all!

  • TminusEight

    Bit slow off the mark here, but finally catching up on some stuff I’ve been missing… Really liking this on first listen. It’s reminding me of Summoning a lot… in the same way the amazing Old Morning’s Dawn takes me to another time and space every time I hear it. Will be keen to hear this some more for sure.