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Triumphant & unsettling; impossible to categorize - 95%

vorfeed, December 17th, 2012

The production on this album is quite obscure, with a layer of eerie whispers and snarls over a bassy, fuzzy guitar tone. The drums are comparatively quiet, but always audible, and the bass is equally easy to pick out of the mix.

Obsidian Codex is a brilliant blend of tremolo-picked atmosphere, aggressive riffing, and crushing doom. It's epic and heavy, triumphant and unsettling, and impossible to categorize. I've never heard such a convincing blend of second-wave black metal and the bestial black/death style, yet Obsidian Codex is beholden to neither -- Vassafor has blazed a new trail here, stretching far beyond anything they've ever recorded.

"Initium" consists of three minutes of ringing, distant echoes. I'm not usually fond of long intros, but this track is very effective. It's the perfect way to sink into the proper mood, and it's also an early signal that the short-attention-span crowd should look elsewhere. "Rites of Ascension"/"Obsidian King"/"Archeonaut's Return" swing between triumph, ferocity, and a feeling of oppression so heavy it'll knock you over. The contrast between the blasting parts and the massive, grandiose slow sections is excellent, as is the way the vocals float in the distance, half-heard and obscure. The result is deeply disquieting, the way so few black metal records are these days; by the end of "Archeonaut" there's a real sense of having stumbled onto something otherworldly, something dangerous. "Craft of Dissolution" is a little more straightforward, fast and ferocious until the catchy part comes in.

The slow, sick churn of "Nemesis" is worth every second of its nearly twenty-five minute length. The vocals really come into their own on this track, slithering between the huge, echoing riffs. Numerous tempo changes keep the whole thing moving forward, yet there's a recognizable theme throughout. The latter half builds a tremendous amount of atmosphere: it simply does not get heavier than this.

The last third of the album speeds things up again. "Sunya (Void Paradox)" will be familiar to those who bought the Promo MMX tape, but it's even more powerful in context, bristling with pick slides and rumbling bass. The industrial interlude which follows it provides a well-needed breath of fresh air, after which "Makutu (Condemned to Deepest Depths)" charges forward with a galloping rhythm and an arrogant, swaggering sound. The riff that comes in at around 5:40 is out-fucking-standing, the perfect payoff for the album! Then "Exitium" brings things back to the beginning, and it's time to play it again...

An hour and a half might seem too long for a record like this, but Obsidian Codex seems to stop the passage of time: it's mesmerizing, so much so that I can listen to it for hours. It rewards both everyday listening and close attention, as multiple spins reveal hidden details along with a wealth of memorable passages. This is an album for the ages... highest recommendations.

Standout Tracks: "Obsidian King", "Archeonaut's Return", "Nemesis", "Makutu (Condemned to Deepest Depths)"

Review by vorfeed: http://vorfeed.net