I’ve branched out quite a bit over the years in my time with Angry Metal Guy & Affiliates, LLC., and over the years, you notice a bit of bleed-through when it comes to discovering new bands. Many are trying to push boundaries as hard and as far as humanly possible in hopes of getting noticed by music reviewers such as myself. Others hope that by emulating a well-proven and time-tested sound but with as much conviction as possible, they can win us over by virtue of hooks, clever melodies, and just straight-up heart and soul. What the fuck am I getting at, you may ask? The latter is the path of the day here, as Finnish funeral doombearers Obseqvies hope to draw my eye (of solitude) with their debut album, The Hours of My Wake. With three songs at almost an hour in length, did they succeed?
The answer depends on your knowledge of funeral doom, and your own patience and tolerance of a typical funeral song’s length and journey. It sounds like a massive cop-out onscreen, but you’ll see where this is going fast. Let’s start with the former first. These guys/girls1 love Eye of Solitude. Hell, their name comes from the song of the same name from their split with Faal! It’s apparent in their pacing, build-up, and tension. And their vocalist is either the best Daniel Neagoe impersonator on this barren Earth, or actually is Daniel Neagoe and he’s just humble enough to not be mentioned anywhere on the Internet. And who can blame them for their predominant influence? Canto III was a beast of an album, and Eye of Solitude have been around long enough to finally get some worthy followers of their brand of funeral doom.
But there are problems. Massive, crushing problems. “Dawning,” the second song, builds upon a simple riff, slow-as-a-turtle-on-quaaludes drum beats, and a punishing atmosphere that would be effective at four, maybe five minutes. But not nine. Definitely not nine. And when they do introduce something new at that time (in this case, some clean moaning), it’s not enough to pull the songwriting out to engage the listener. And this is the shortest song on the album at sixteen minutes. The other two pneumatically catapult themselves well into the twenty-minute range and could use some major fat-trimming to be effective, or something within the songs themselves to make them feel like a journey, not as a cure for sleeplessness. For all the self-editing woes of “Dawning” that reared their ugly heads, its surrounding tracks fared worse.
From a production standpoint, at least the heft is there without compromising the dynamics too much in the sound. The drums thunder powerfully while the guitars build up a nice layer of fog and woe. The bass exists. But if you’re going to emulate your heroes, at least figure out what makes their signature brand so unique. Funeral doom relies not only on punishing atmospheres, but also enough change-ups to keep your interest from waning as the minutes tick down. Eye of Solitude and Shape of Despair mastered this over the years, by either applying some tremolo-picked thickness in the former, or some emotional wailing and heartache in the latter. Keeping to one riff and one beat for so long without an engaging pay-off wears out its welcome fast.
And that’s a shame, as this is exactly in my wheelhouse, and with some tightening, Obseqvies could build into something unique. But that “unique” isn’t here at all. The Hours of My Wake is an exercise in tedium, as I didn’t enjoy a single song on here. Hopefully, they can find something to separate themselves from the pack on their next album, as The Hours of My Wake just made me want to play Canto III for the umpteenth time. Far from the worst I’ve heard, but miles away from engaging.