Castevet - Obsian
Profound Lore Records
Progressive Black Metal
6 songs (35:50)
Release year: 2013
Official Myspace, Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Goat

The recent news that Castevet have split up was an unwelcome surprise to me, not least because I've got used to hearing band recommendations and putting them to the very back of my mind for 'catching up' on at some unspecified future date. The sheer amount of intriguing black metal released on Profound Lore alone is difficult to catch up with, let alone the almighty volume of good American black metal that seems to come out of nowhere these days (even discounting the vegan lefty stuff!). So I immediately went back and caught up on Castevet's second full-length from October last year, given swansong status retrospectively and thus having a lot to live up to! And although Obsian isn't instant genius, the culmination of a vision a la Altar of Plagues' final release Teethed Glory and Injury, it is a good but flawed album that makes Castevet's subsequent demise more of a tragedy.

That comparison to Altar of Plagues is possibly a bit too obvious, and Castevet don't live up to it anyway; Teethed Glory and Injury was a step forward into new territory, while Obsian is frustrating for what it promises as much as for what it delivers. Sure, the band's take on black metal is very clearly progressive, but it feels transitional, on the path to brilliance rather than delivering it. The slight similarity that the tracks seem to share here is notable; as is the shorter-than-normal length. Opening track The Tower is upfront and aggressive, showing off with varied drum fills from Ian Jacyszyn and a technical stop-start structure that builds into the next track, Cavernous, taking the approach onwards but upping the atmospheric impact with increased focus on the riffs. It repeats the same trick a little too often, however, and feels repetitive towards the end of its seven-minute running time, which is a bad sign.

Castevet are at their best when exploring the more progressive and technical aspects of their sound, such as in the opening to The Curve, which develops well and manages to be hypnotic where Cavernous was not, fading into ambience towards the end. The addition of acoustic strums to the guitars in As Fathomed by Beggars and Victims is a nice touch, and the ending of the album, although a bit strange with the title track's ambience and the clean vocals on finale The Seat of Severance, suggests a band trying to stretch their sound further. It's unfortunate that it doesn't quite happen for them – those clean vocals make the track sound almost like something from another band, and the overall effect is that of a lesser Ihsahn, especially as you hear completely thrown-in trumpet at the closing notes of the album. Perhaps they were simply running out of ideas – the three members of Castevet all share their time with other bands, including Krallice and Psalm Zero. In any case, although I won't be mourning the loss of Castevet to the extent I do that of Altar of Plagues, Obsian suggested a good band building up to a truly great album, and that we won't now see that greatness is a shame.

Killing Songs :
The Tower, The Curve, Fathomed by Beggars and Victims
Goat quoted 73 / 100
Other albums by Castevet that we have reviewed:
Castevet - Mounds of Ash reviewed by Charles and quoted 78 / 100
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