Obsidian Kingdom – Torn & Burnt (2013)


Progressive Metal meets Electronic Dance, now there’s a genre combination that I didnt expect to get with my breakfast. Torn & Burnt, I am lead to believe, is the follow up album of remixes proceeding the successful release of their previous sophomore album Mantiis. I must admit, I was somewhat hesitant in approaching this release but what I found surprised me quite a lot, and anyone interested in Industrial and, erm, “Deathstep”, might also find themselves with an interest here.

It’s been a long day, and all I want to do at this point is sit down with a huge pizza, a few bottles of cider and listen to some music really loud. Perfect really, since this album is not designed to be listened at any other volume level. “And Then It Was (Oktopus Remix)” was my introduction to this release and is one of the finer ones; it opens the album to heavy but submerged guitars and thick, distal basslines as it generates a driven but rather loose atmosphere. This playful riff seems to just bend and distort its way into the mix, supported by this dense bed of instrumentation, fading into this second phase of more intensive music where the drums pick up, the glitch begins to roll and disembodied, terrifying voices growl away. But it’s not overtly heavy or oppressive and it rolls into an even more accessible track “Last Of The Light (Subheim vs Poordream Remix)”, my favourite track of the album. It remains low-key for the large part, driven by powerful, Trance inspired but IDM lead synth lines and intoxicating bass pulses., while soft vocal coos warm the wet synth activity going on overhead and help really give this piece a sense of scale. The latter half almost wants us to dance but just increases its grittiness in a rising crescendo of texture and volume before bottoming out.

“Awake Until Dawn (Necro Deathmort Remix)” sounds like we’re going to fall back a little to the Metal roots and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Slow, heavy, Post-Rock-esque guitars and forceful percussion create this sweeping and thick soundscape that’s just so rich and slow, so powerful and majestic. But it revvs up strongly and the hidden depths of the alarming, screaming voices hover on the edge of tangibility, buried beneath the overwhelming instrumentation. But the heavy and scary parts fall away rapidly and dont comprise a large part of the track, especially in the more cerebral, dronier ending sequences. “Fingers In Anguish (Jr Morgue Remix)” comes in surprisingly quickly, flowing effortlessly from its precursor. It’s got a strong Massive Attack feel to it actually, and not the first time I’ve thought that listening to this album. There’s careful and precise vocals but they’re gone almost as quickly as they arrived after just over a minute of low-key, downtempo electronic shifts gears.

“Haunts Of The Underworld (Drumcorps Remix)” starts sparse, nothing more than a few synth notes and laid-back guitar, but it’s clear this is merely the precursor to something  altogether larger. It gains some momentum via textural attrition and then these big, thick guitars and glitched sequences flood the fore in this great rush. It falls away, knowing it’s overdone itself, but it’s temporary as it retreats to a tinnier and altogether more easygoing phase before coming back and rocking out full force in the closing moments. Loving the fierce processing on this, not to mention the great pacing. “The Nurse (Larvae Remix)” segues in, again flawlessly, and it’s not too far removed. Slow percussion and a sparse primary riff are all that keep the track going for the most part though; it feels like it’s going to rear up and bite the bait in a thick bassline dominated transitional sequence but it never happens, remaining content to cruise for the most part.

Closer “Answers Revealing (Mothboy Remix)” is the longest track of the album by, well, almost 3 minutes, but chooses not really to do anything much more with all that extra time. Admittedly, it is luxurious and takes the time to utilise the vocals pretty well; once more they’re ethereal and barely discernible amongst the thick electronic bass and shuddering electronica but they’re an interesting textural addition. Much like the previous track it remains content to sit in cruise mode, but it is much heavier than its precursor and manages to create a deeply compelling atmosphere throughout; it’s pretty hard to believe this originated from a Metal album at all.

It’s always difficult approaching remix albums I find; having not heard the original is probably a bonus so that I dont have a bias, but I can’t help but feel these tracks are all probably now completely new and discrete tracks of their own. Yes, much of this album is pretty heavy electronic but out of context it’s fairly unbelievable that these tracks came from an album dominated by Death and Progressive Metal. Kudos to all the artists involved to making this such a compelling and unique release, it must be said. I like it a lot; I think it could have done with perhaps a slightly stronger overprint one way or the other, since it feels a little caught in the middle, but there’s enough of both the raw, harsh material and the more mind bending stuff to keep it afloat in my mind.



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