Obscure Fire by Megalith LevitationRelease date: March 31, 2023
Label: Aesthetic Death
Ten years ago, an 18m-wide chunk of rock finished its travels through the cosmos and met its fiery end in the sky over Chelyabinsk Oblast in central Russia. Much like its fellow meteor that flattened the forests of Tunguska a century earlier, this one burned up on entry; as it did, it glowed brighter than the sun and sent out shockwaves that blew out windows across the Oblast. Did this event have any influence on the formation of Chalyabinsk’s astral doomsters Megalith Levitation three years later? Honestly, probably not but it’s still easy to draw the connection between the two. Both are astronomically heavy, both take the universe’s outer reaches as their points of origin and it’s pretty much impossible to tear yourself away from either of them until they come to a complete stop.
Obscure Fire is, to put it bluntly, a trip. It flows with the steady, unassuming energy of lava, a slow-moving wave of Sabbathian riffing and nebulous, freaked-out psych dabbling that sounds like Ufomammut fully embracing every Hawkwind fantasy that they’ve ever had. Despite this, it is a wholly unique work that taps into a feral, primal energy. The enigmatic vocals of SAA are genuinely dread-inducing, a long liturgical moan that could drag the gods up from the belly of the earth itself, while PAN’s drumming has a blunt, violent quality that doesn’t feel impeccably tight nor awkwardly messy. Instead, it has the looseness of a quality jam sessionist slowed down to a quarter of their natural pace, intuitive and unsettling at the same time.
And then there’s the riffing. Massive ones that lurch and collapse like the tide, ones with an urgent, driving energy that’ve then been coated in concrete and repurposed as sonic weaponry… and then there’s the ones that Megalith Levitation have always excelled at. They have an ability to infuse their heaviest moments with a thick, lysergic groove that makes it seem to crawl and slither out of the speakers. They create miasmas that reek of sulphur and incense, filling all available space with eldritch otherness; while other bands might weaponise the emptiness within their sound, this trio leave the listener with nowhere to hide.
There are standout moments throughout Obscure Fire’s punchy run – the percussive weight in ‘Of Silence’ gradually picking up speed until it hits a rollicking, wigged out peak; the black hole swirl of reverb that cuts a serpentine path through ‘Into The Depth’; ‘Of Eternal Doom’s almost jazzy interludes where the metallic bass rattle of KKV cuts through the murk only to be silenced with a wave of pure, uncut doom – but they are in thrall to the band’s great plan – the trip. Even more with their magnificent debut, this record feels like a journey. It straps the listener securely in and blasts them off to who knows where. Is it hell? Is it other dimensions? Or is it into deep space, retracing the path of that colossal mass of rock, metal and extraterrestrial detritus that detonated before their eyes a decade ago? Only Megalith Levitation really know but the thrill of taking that ride can’t, and shouldn’t, be denied.