Obtained Enslavement - _The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell_
(Napalm Records, 2000)
by: Pedro Azevedo (
This doesn't seem to be the same band that recorded _Witchcraft_ [CoC #26] and _Soulblight_ [CoC #41]... but it is. Pest, Heks, Doden and Torquemada remain in the band, while bassist T. Reaper and, most importantly, keyboardist Morrigan (the same who plays bass for Aeternus) have abandoned the project. I consider Morrigan's departure as being the most important one simply because Obtained Enslavement without keyboards is rather hard to imagine before listening to _The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell_. But in times when other black metal bands are leaving behind some of their most distinctive attributes (Limbonic Art cutting down on their symphonic side and Aeternus trading their extremely thick guitar sound for a clearer and more death metal-like approach are a couple of examples that come to my mind), Obtained Enslavement have taken a similar path and completely dropped the keyboards that were previously so important in their sound. Not only that, as they also opted to record at the Soundsuite Studio with Terje Refsnes (who has been increasingly active with Norwegian bands lately) instead of Grieghallen. Hence their characteristic dirty and harsh yet symphonic sound is completely gone in exchange for a much cleaner and powerful, still technical but now guitar-based black metal. However, the most important thing isn't gone: the band's talent. Remarkable and creative guitar work, very good drumming and Pest's charismatic vocals (plus some clean vox as well) mould this record into a succession of slower or more melodic sections and technical, aggressive high-speed black metal. It all flows very well and the usually non-linear song structures and crescendos keep the album varied and interesting. This is very different from what they used to sound like, and I miss the old, somewhat more unique Obtained Enslavement, but _TSatHoH_ is still damn good.
(article published 3/5/2000)
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