Review: Obsequiae - Suspended in the Brume of Eos (2011)


artist: Obsequiae
release: Sus­pen­ded in the Brume of Eos
format: CD
year of release: 2011
label: Bindrune
dur­a­tion: 41:37

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

The US duo Obsequiae is a con­tinu­ation of the earlier pro­ject Autum­nal Winds, and with Sus­pen­ded in the Brume of Eos (that last bit means fog of dawn, in case you were won­der­ing like me) they present their first large release, after earlier demos. While the band has its roots in melodic death/black metal, which is still the most prom­in­ent sound on this album, there is no doubt that this record car­ries a strong influ­ence of medi­aeval and early music.

Now, medi­aeval is often a troub­ling influ­ence in pop­u­lar music. All too often the ele­ments that have to lend some­thing a medi­aeval tinge are renais­sance faire cos­tumes, Olde Eng­lish, and even a cer­tain amount of droll­ness. In metal, things are hardly bet­ter, where these influ­ences are gen­er­ally lim­ited to pos­ing with swords and - dare I say it - lots of key­boards. At first glance, Obsequiae ticks a few sim­ilar boxes, with gloomy castle pic­tures on the inside of the CD, medi­aeval European pseud­onyms, and the lovely Lady and the Uni­corn tapestry that graces the front cover.

How­ever, on Sus­pen­ded in the Brume of Eos the influ­ence is more than skin deep, and that makes this album so power­ful. Besides a selec­tion of pop­u­lar medi­aeval inter­ludes played on acous­tic gui­tar that bal­ance against the eight mostly high-speed metal tracks, we can clearly hear the influ­ence of medi­aeval melody and tone even in the lat­ter, where the often dual lead gui­tars ham­mer out one bril­liant line after another. Per­haps many metal musi­cians have often wondered how cer­tain medi­aeval tunes would sound played as metal, but I have exactly the reverse sen­sa­tion with many of the tracks on this album. From the gently rip­pling lead from the title track to the slower majesty of “The Wounded Fox”, and many other bits in the album, it’s crys­tal clear that Obsequiae’s music man­ages to be both: quick, tech­nical and ener­getic extreme metal that is obvi­ously from this day and age, but with res­on­ances of ages past. Rather than just imply­ing or even fak­ing medi­aeval influ­ence through external means, this band was truly inspired music­ally by medi­aeval fore­bears, even serving as a sort of miss­ing link between then and now.

Apart from the gen­eral suc­cess of this approach, I simply have to men­tion the mar­vel­lous open­ing track, the relent­less waltz of “Altars of Moss”. This track is pure gold from the start to its glor­i­ous fin­ish with one of the best riffs I’ve ever heard. More gen­eral praise goes to the tight rhythm sec­tion, and the pro­duc­tion, as this is one of those albums that proves that a good bass gui­tar sound is a valu­able asset to a metal album.

This one of those metal albums that sound con­ven­tional on the sur­face but har­bour a vast amount of soph­ist­ic­a­tion within. If there’s any band that deserves the label ‘medi­aeval metal’ (or as the promo notes have it, ‘castle metal’), Obsequiae is it. If these guys could serve up another por­tion of this the com­ing years, I’d be much obliged.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Altars Of Moss (5:23)
2. Sidhe (2:21)
3. In The White Fields (4:10)
4. Sus­pen­ded In The Brume Of Eos (5:43)
5. Wildes Heer (1:07)
6. The Wounded Fox (4:56)
7. Atone­ment (2:17)
8. Estas Redit (1:03)
9. Arrows (2:59)
10. The Starlit Shore (5:31)
11. Boreas (2:18)
12. Cabin Lights (3:51)