Obsidian Arc by Pillorian

Release date: February 10, 2017
Label: Eisenwald

As the harsh shrieks go, they present only a small piece of Pillorian’s beautiful soundscape of cascading modern black metal elements. The rung notes are proliferate, predominantly using folk/pagan black metal stylistics, and the acoustic sections add staggering amounts of beauty and melancholy to the music. It’s easy to proclaim Pillorian’s Obsidian Arc modern black metal genius, but it truly does present with quality black metal dirge typical of depressive black metal bands who don’t simply blast end to end. Genius may be a far-reaching term reserved for bands that constantly evolve in morphing states of evolutionary prowess, such as progressive black metal band Krallice, or do so in waves of more subtle experimentation with primitive arrangements a’la Watain, but Pillorian does present with several striking qualities that helps the band make a statement. Similar to Barshasketh at times, Pillorian adds a dearth of quality black metal for the new year’s commencement. With instrumentation at a high, song sections methodically diversified, elements tempered to reflect cohesion, Pillorian’s Obsidian Arc is an enjoyable listen, and presents a band refreshing the melodic black metal style in 2017 to my pronounced enjoyment.

The tempos morph constantly, never turning sallow in blast and stop fashion, rendering listeners an experience that is multi-dimensional and easy to like in the process. There’s great songwriting here and melodies stick out of the seven songs on Obsidian Arc with each repeat listen.

At times, the band even blends some My Dying Bride in the mix of influences with closing track, ‘Dark is the River of Man’, using instrumentation and musicianship that is both melodic and melancholic in ways that are beautiful to behold. The tracks are long, winding in and out of transitions. And although the music isn’t standard-fare in structure and form, the songs do lack a begrudged catchiness that some bands use in stanza-chorus stanza fashion. It does work effectively against the use of structure that is overtly simplistic, which is not quite a miscalculation in my opinion, as Pillorian effectively paints a soundscape with aural textures, more so than it does narrate a story with plain antinomy. Therefore, Pillorian avoids the trappings of black metal in the style that appeals to intelligent fans the least these days, and gains converts from fanbases of bands like Mgła and Winterfylleth.

Intelligent and well-crafted black metal that is modern, icy, and melancholic is still a struggle to find in satisfactory amounts, as most bands who attempt its tribute fail in one way or another to prove worthy of standing out in a crowded field. Pillorian’s excellent musicianship and sense of melody triumphantly maintains the truth at the heart of black metal’s incessant evolution and tribute in largely both facets. Obsidian Arc is great black metal, easily memorable, and easily one of 2017’s best albums to open the slew of depressive melodic black metal releases that could struggle to light this year. Truth be told, there are moments of Agalloch, Winterflyeth, Fen and My Dying Bride all over Pillorian’s Obsidian Arc, and that list presents a small array of diversification that the band’s influences makes easy reference to. For fans looking for something new in this black metal style, give the album a listen with an open mind.

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