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An increasing number of bands in recent times have proclaimed themselves to play experimental black metal, yet few are able to really create something that is unique yet captivating enough to grab attention. Obsidian Kingdom joins the ranks of such bands, with 3:11 being their second EP after 2007's Matter.
The album opens with Prey and their erratic style of playing is immediately evident, with the odd time signatures utilised backed by the tortured shriek of vocalist Rider G Omega and Zer0 Æmeour Íggdrasil. The vocalists switch between clean vocals and growls, with the clean vocals almost sounding like a less trained version of Orphaned Land's vocalists. What actually surprised me were the Eastern influences present in the riffs and lead guitar lines, almost reminiscent of bands such as the above-mentioned Orphaned Land and Melechesh. The opening track manages to set up the mood and anticipation for the remaining 2 tracks of the EP with a climatic ending.
Unfortunately, while the riffs on Maze are sufficiently heavy, often punctuated by pinch harmonics, the clean vocals are a slight letdown, with the vocalist drawling out each line. The saving moment comes as Rider G Omega goes back into growls, going back once more into the aggressive mode that the band started off with. On this track his vocals are reminiscent of Haggard's Asis Nasseri, an extremely full bodied growl which certainly works well in adding on to the heaviness already present on the music. The band also goes into slight melodic death metal territory after the halfway mark with the guitar solos and riffs, before ending off the song with heavy and erratic palm-muted chugging on the guitars.
Closing track Solitude begins with a ticking clock, bringing to mind Dream Theater's Metropolis Pt. 2 album, yet there is where all the similarities end. The band proves their songwriting abilities on this track, with the whispered vocals backed by dreamy clean singing at the background leaving the listener almost feeling like he is in a state of solitude, as the song title would have suggested. On this track as well, the band utilises the layering of clean vocals with growls to good effect and is perhaps the only moment on the album where the clean vocals are excellently used and executed. The tortured and desperate cries on the song further emphasise the desolate mood of the song.
While the music certainly provided an interesting take on black metal (and would definitely be familiar to fans of the aforementioned bands), the clean vocals certainly caused enjoyment of the album to falter slightly. Overall though, this is a release that can be used to prove the musicianship and songwriting capabilities of the band.