When I ask myself what black metal is, I’m at a loss of words sometimes. Everyone out there thinks they are right, they know what black metal is, should be, etc. etc. I personally don’t care. I know the genesis of black metal, the bands that a lot of people site as starters of the genre. But, here isn’t the place to have this major debate that will forever be had. I’ll call Obsidian Tongue a black metal band, albeit one that isn’t afraid to expand their horizons and not be limited by the “genre”. A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time is album number two from these Massachusetts boys. And it’s a bleak story they have to tell.
Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Brendan Hayter and drummer Greg Murphy, Obsidian Tongue does an excellent job of mixing their spacey, dreamed out melodies as a counteract to their black metal presence. Opening track ‘Brothers in the Stars’ mixes tempos at times, even dipping into a psychedelic “interlude” at one point in the song before the drums come crashing in with tremolo picking and driving riffs. Hayter’s vocals are good, make no mistake. But you would have a hard time telling him apart from many other vocalists. This still doesn’t detour from feeling his voice as he rasps and sings to you all throughout.
Their ability to not stick to a regular formula is catching. It keeps the flow of the songs moving. Be it from the solo leading to dream space on ‘My Hands Were Made to Hold the Wind’ or the up and down tempos of assault to phased out, atmospheric almost, glory on ‘Individuation’. On the closing title-track (which includes vocals from Agalloch’s John Haughm) is drenching in melancholy and slowly plucked guitars set to make the cloud seem extra gray when listening. The song’s later half pulls out a driving beat and what may be the most depressive three-plus minutes of the record. And the soul twisting solo is like a knife in the heart as is weaves all around you. The band doesn’t pull the plug at the end; they just simply fade out, leaving you staring at your shoes while the rain pours around you.
I realize that many bands are taking chances nowadays. No one wants to be “normal”. But in the detouring from normalization, a new norm has been created. That isn’t to say the Obsidian Tongue falls into that stigma at all. They play a fairly familiar type of music, but they also play it very well. They also provide some memorable moments that will have you coming back or re-listening to the album to satisfy the urge your heart has. A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time is definitely worth checking out, autumn and winter will be here soon enough, and you’ll need a soundtrack.
You can pick up A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time now through Hypnotic Dirge Records. Support artists and musicians you enjoy. Go out and grab this album.