Obsidian - Point of Infinity
Progressive Death Metal
9 songs (44:00)
Release year: 2010
Official Myspace, Candlelight
Reviewed by Charles
Imagine being trapped in a wooden cage, prevented from reaching unknown territory outside. Imagine grasping the bars to try and break them, only to find that they are rotten and come away with the slightest effort. Turn around, and on another side you realise most have already fallen away leaving gaps through which you can walk easily. This slightly strange image filtered into my head listening to Obsidian’s Point of Infinity, an album which seeks to take death metal in any number of new directions, but which always seems to be walking through openings in the boundaries that others have already smashed. In each new direction we find contemporary greats waiting for them, receptive, but prepared to show us how this should really sound.

As such this can occasionally feel a little ephemeral as a listening experience despite the enviable skill with which it has been crafted. It runs the gamut of cutting edge death metal from Meshuggah to Cynic, and I also sense a significant similarity with the creative French prog-death act, Hacride. Like that band, Obsidian emphasise rich, occasionally Tool-like grooves, balanced with frequent changes of mood and a strong sense of melody, although we don’t find quite the same penchant for sheer length here (or for Hacride’s exuberant Latin hip-hop crossovers, either). The band’s staple throughout Point of Infinity are indeed those grooves; they are crunching and energetic, reminiscent of more recent Meshuggah but, perhaps unfortunately, generally far less complex and with a more melodeath leaning. Thus opener Illuminate powers in energetically, with a dense death metal drive that flicks between hammering, beat-shifting riffs and growling deathcore breakdowns. Then we have a sudden change of mood; drop tempo and enter clean vocals. For all its elements, it feels slightly formulaic.

The strongest songs are where they experiment more subtly with dynamics and textures. Both the conjoined pairing of The Upward Spiral/Point of Infinity and lengthy closer Spectral Pathways seem to draw heavily on Traced In Air. The former uses a flowing, gentle setup as a platform from which to build into another powerful metal groove. But Spectral Pathways does something far more interesting; it makes that mellifluous and enigmatic sound its own, building gradually from a haze of introspective pinch harmonics into an uneasy, almost gothic rumble of metallic thunder. It is by far the strongest song here and one of the few moments when this polished and well-executed album steps out of the shadow of its influences.

Killing Songs :
Spectral Pathways, Radiating Light
Charles quoted 70 / 100
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