Obsidian Kingdom - _3:11_
(Independent, 2010)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
Perhaps my enjoyment for this EP came as a reaction to the abstract black metal which has been dominating my playlist for a few months. There is only so much avant conceptual noise one can take before having an existential meltdown. There must be a doublekick in the near future, otherwise I will be found screaming in the street, naked and clutching a crumbled liturgy vinyl. Obsidian Kingdom is by no means simple, but their execution in songwriting is refreshing and as invigorating as a dip in an icy river. Making badass metal songs seems to be a lost art as of today. _3:11_ was sent to me earlier this week and already I have felt more energetic and optimistic regarding the weekend.

Obsidian Kingdom is a Spanish metal band raised in the black/death house, but very much loyal to progressive style of heavy metal. Much like Melechesh, Sigh and Rotting Christ, Obsidian Kingdom uses the black metal template as a backdrop to a world where riffs, solos and drum fills still dominate the landscape.

_3:11_ was officially released in 2010, but due to their relative obscurity, Obsidian Kingdom's past releases are still making their way up the ladder. _3:11_ came at me unexpected and with little preamble, but like all great things, I am better because of it. Perhaps the foreseeable existential black metal meltdown has been staved for a couple more days.

In the band's press kit, _3:11_ showcases the album design, which was overseen by European designer Ritxi Ostáriz. If a band thinks they can win points for album design -- they must know me very well. Ostáriz's use of minimal geometric patterns and textural abstraction is not only stunning but speaks to the band's taste for design. This is a group of musicians who appreciate graphic minimalism as well as dripping black bile. A great album cover can give a band a push in the right direction. For an unsigned Spanish metal band, it is not only bizarre but admirable _3:11_ didn't come on a burned CDR with pentagrams written in permanent marker.

_3:11_, while only three songs, stretches to the gates of 30 minutes. Within those 30 minutes are many instances of a band devoted to the traditions of old heavy metal. Songs are emotionally charged and constructed to give listeners the opportunity to headbang while typing a record review in a quiet public library. The album's highlight, "Maze", makes use of heavy metal's showmanship while never allowing it to detract from the greater picture. There are many instances of finger tapping, something long desired in the realm of heavy metal. _3:11_'s closer "Solitude" steps further out into the progressive darkness anchored only by the throaty screams of masked vocalist Rider G Omega.

_3:11_ is one of the few instances where an EP only sees a warming up and makes great promises for a full-length release. When this band does make another album, I will be camping outside their apartment ready to purchase one of their limited albums encased in transcendental packaging.

A press kit or promo can be misleading, as the genre is limiting and putting the phrase "too big for any one style" will most likely be met with eyebrow arching and quiet snickering. Obsidian Kingdom goes beyond the black/death tag and creates something worth remembering. While the band has many more rungs to climb before reaching the type of attention deserved, _3:11_ is a strong foothold on a proverbial climb a million miles high.

Contact: http://www.obsidiankingdom.com/

(article published 15/5/2011)


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