Review: “Before” by Obsidian

Labeling themselves as a Progressive Metalcore act that “embraces many influences, from post-hardcore to ambient, DJent or progressive scenes and merges them into one defined style“, Nantes France quartet Obsidian (meaning a hard, dark, glasslike volcanic rock formed by the rapid solidification of lava without crystallization) recorded and mixed their debut album “Before”  at Brown Bear Recording before it was Mastered at Masterlab System. It may only have 5 tracks but cuts 34 minutes with an 11 minute opus in “(Un)certainty” while November 2018 single “Hymn” did not make the final cut.

Blending DJent heavy riffing with Metalcore with single “Real(ise)” sees a hybrid sound that is part Periphery and part Lamb of God in its opening burst before magically doing a one eighty and changing to some Progressive meets Math Rock polyrhythmic instrumentation that you might expect from say CHON or The Fall Of Troy. The beauty is astounding, the complexities are mesmerising and how they manage to seamlessly switch styles is jaw dropping. There is no space for clean singing and vocalist Nathan Frouin is the battering ram of bludgeoning force that you might not expect in a soundscape that is completely unexpected. The aforementioned “(Un)certainty” is an example of expressive almost Jazzy Progressive meanderings with sparse unclean vocals that burst through with some heavier riffs like a sudden rain shower on a summer’s day. There may only be a single guitarist in this band but Francois Pitois manages to get through the work of three with the complexities in this cut making for sounds that leave anything you’d hear on the radio in serious shade and weak in comparison. The ambient parts are hypnotic and when the harsh spoken word rant rips onto some throat grating roars in the final part you could literally play a minute from the middle and a minute from the end and have someone tell you they were two different songs from two different bands. The first 3 and a half minutes of single “Consent” are pure ambient bliss before building up into a final flourish of skull crushing Metal groove with a swagger that has to be heard to be believed.

A more traditional Tech-Metal opening to “Static Waves” with neat staccato riffs pinching over the bright leads makes for a fine place to pickup from its largely instrumental predecessor and Frouin offers up some seriously powerful lows including a Deathcore growl that is simply sublime. In Obsidian’s World everything has its place and while on paper some of the ideas shouldn’t work, they not only do, but they do with style. The ebb and flow of this one with some dirge laden riffs and even Black Metal drum fills in places are brilliant. After a couple of minutes of ambient build up “Salty Mountains” rips into chugging Metalcore riffs and Death Metal vocals and like a storm building into a violent rage it completes the chapter with some circle pit worthly brutality that you can’t fault. Obsidian are a band with everything in their sound and have crafter in “Before” something that is like a giant mosaic of elements that make a sound greater than the sum of their parts [9/10]

Track listing

  1. Real(ise)
  2. (Un)certainty
  3. Consent
  4. Static Waves
  5. Salty Mountains

Before” by Obsidian is out now and available over at bandcamp.

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