Album Review: Mystras — “Castles Conquered and Reclaimed”

Mystras - Castles Conquered and Reclaimed

It’s been a pretty stellar year for the musician known as Ayloss, aka Spectral Lore, aka Mystras.  As if the monumental split he put out with Mare Cognitum from earlier this year wasn’t good enough, he returns with a new project, a new concept and even more inspired ideas, courtesy of medieval history and its surprising parallels to modern times.  Castles Conquered and Reclaimed is both a love letter to a time long ago and a call to action against the current state of affairs, all wrapped up in soaring melodies, nasty riffs and furious beats. Continue reading

Album Review: Obsequiae – “The Palms of Sorrowed Kings”

Obsequiae - The Palms of Sorrowed Kings

Black metal has an identity problem, and it’s exhausting.  The community froths at the mouth to validate, accuse, hoist aloft or otherwise dismantle what it means to be black metal in the current age.  But then I look at the rolling fields and crumbling ruins in broad daylight that note the arrival of a new Obsequiae record and I breathe a sigh of relief.  Here is a band unconcerned with status, with genre, with any kind of presence (seriously, beyond a Metal Archives listing I couldn’t find anything) in the community other than to carry high the singular sound they’ve been refining for three albums now.  And now the consumer of music can turn from the maelstrom and rejoice, for The Palms of Sorrowed Kings stands as the clearest, finest example of the kind of thing Obsequiae and no one else is doing in metal right now.  Continue reading

Album Review: Obsequiae — “Aria of Vernal Tombs”

obsequiae aria of vernal tombs

Ever listened to an album for the first time and gotten that rush of fizzing sparks up and down your spine? When I discovered Obsequiae’s 2011 debut Suspended in the Brume of Eos [after reading their brilliant interview with Invisible Oranges], I’m fairly sure my mind went blank as I heard what I had been waiting for my entire life: something that existed in the infinitesimal overlap of metal and the middle ages. Suspended has been in constant rotation ever since that first listen and I’ve been anticipating more work from them, curious about where they would take their sound. Thankfully, their follow-up, Aria of Vernal Tombs, was worth the wait. Continue reading