Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs Review

Obsequiae have been getting a lot of praise and seem to be doing something interesting. They combine folk and black metal and not in some superficial way. Every few tracks is an acoustic guitar folk work.

Let’s take each piece on its own and then ask whether it works as a whole. The folk songs are genuinely good. It seems these are played on solo acoustic guitar, but of course, the sound is intended to imitate a medieval lute. The style is the most important part, and this is nailed.

Most have a pedal drone. Harmonically, they are very simple relying on one or two chords. The interest comes from melody and embellishment. The melodies are modal and also simple. These are done well and the sustained embellishment provide changing color to keep the songs interesting. I give approval to these sections.

The metal sections are not as interesting. They do a good job of continuity in that they keep the melody and harmony simple. Unfortunately, many of the songs don’t have the color or embellishment of the folk sections. Vocals get added, but this isn’t significant enough to make it interesting.

I often find myself zoning out in the metal sections, because they I-IV-V groove on an arpeggio or semi-riff for extended periods of time: the melody totally absent. Maybe they were going for atmosphere, but this is a major oversight in making interesting black metal. I cannot give approval to these sections. That being said, there are certainly moments where it all comes together which proves they are capable of making an excellent album in this style.

As a whole, they strike a nice balance. Most bands that attempt something like this don’t commit and it comes across as a gimmick. Spreading the folk songs evenly throughout the album is the right choice. They maintain consistency in style between the folk and metal parts which is another important quality for such an album.

Overall, I’ve gotten quite a bit of enjoyment out of this one. There is an excellent album buried in here, and I’ll definitely check out their next one to see if they can pull it out. As it stands, I can only give this a 6.5/10.

Here’s a sample:

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