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One of best Czech albums - 80%

dismember_marcin, February 6th, 2018

This band went through a long journey in their musical existence. They started as an uninteresting and pretty primitive pagan metal act, then went towards more progressive and avantgarde direction and finally turned into a surprising rock / pop band, which you can hear on their last two records. "Obsidian" is a peak of Heiden's creativity, I think and their best album, leaving the previous efforts way behind and never to be bettered neither by the still pretty damn good follower "Dolores" nor the mentioned pop / rock / Katatonia influenced records like "A kdybys už nebyla, vymyslím si tě" (which I even have on vinyl ha!). While the previous black / pagan metal albums like "Era 2 ... ve vírech poznání..." or "Tinne" bored me pretty fast, then "Obsidian" sounds incredibly well from start to finish and is a fine achievement for this band, in my opinion.

Stylistically it's pretty progressive but intriguing black metal, in many ways it's what nowadays we would call "post black metal" due to the harmonies, dissonant riffage and some long instrumental guitar parts, which give you a mesmerizing and truly exciting feeling. There are still quite few aggressive and vicious fragments, but the main focus on "Obsidian" was put on great atmospheric parts, with a sort of nostalgic and sorrowful feel, with slow or mid paced tempos and great harmonies and riffs, including some clean guitar parts, to achieve a more expressive and diverse result. In "Buried 100 Years Ago" Heiden went even further and came up with a depressive song that is entirely played on acoustic and has whispered, rather than harsh, vocals. It fits to end the whole album for sure and the result is simply very good. But it's not my favourite part of "Obsidian" and there are better tracks around this album to bring your attention.

First off, I have to say that I really like the riffing and way of arrangements on "Obsidian" and maybe this is why the whole tracklist is so damn good and even. There's lots of great stuff going on and it's not a simple, basic type of song structure. Believe me that Heiden managed to come up with great quality songwriting, rich with fantastic ideas and performed in great way. They mostly concentrate on good melodic parts, take for example this song called "Thujone", with its harmonic parts and dark, sorrowful aura. What a nice song and what a good listen. This music is actually very easy to get into, it's not very obscure or malicious sounding black metal, and with that melodic stuff and almost doomy tempos it's just a nice, interesting and intriguing album. Personally though, I like those more dynamic tracks like "Post Lux Tenebras" or "Catharsis" the most.

One more intriguing thing about "Obsidian" is its artwork and booklet. The front shows a hand black as tar, holding a heart... quite a dark and disturbing photograph. Meanwhile the pages inside the booklet are white, with more interesting photographs. Lyrics are all in Czech, but there are their English translations provided, so this way you'll be able to understand everything. All in all, "Obsidian" is a very good and interesting album. I have to say that I couldn't free myself from it, when I started to play it few days ago. I have this album since ages and I do admit that I haven't listened to it probably since I got it (in 2009 I got "Obsidian" for review from Naga Productions). But when I played it again few days ago I actually got so excited that the CD didn't leave my stereo in six or seven days. Yes, it is that good, I think. This is also why I decided to write few words about it, I wanted to recommend "Obsidian" and introduce Heiden to you all.

Standout tracks: "Catharsis", "At a Funeral", "Thujone", "Post Lux Tenebras", "Monomania" (uppsss, I just mentioned 5 out of 8 songs...)
Final rate: 80/100

A short-lived curiosity - 60%

autothrall, February 4th, 2010

Czech band Heiden made their early mark with a pair of decent pagan/black metal albums Potomkům Pozemského Soumraku and Tinne, but have begun to diverge with this third full-length. The black, gnarled core is still intact, but there is an added flair for driving, depressive rock. When it works, it really works, but a lot of the songs here left me with little to no impression.

"Nostalgia Echo" anoints the album with walls of turbulence created through guitars. It's a brooding intro and builds some anticipation for "Catharsis", a bleak rocker which manifested thoughts of mid-period Katatonia meets modern Satyricon. It's actually a good song, I enjoyed the snakelike melodies that break up the verse riffing. "Triad" is a little slower and duller, though sufficiently desolate. "At a Funeral" centers on a simple black groove and blues melody, but transforms into a sludgy black. There are moments in the remainder of the album which I enjoyed, in particular the rocking fervor of "Post Lux Tenebras" and the grim twang of "Monomania", but even these fell below inspiring.

Obsidian does create a dark feeling through its mood and tonality, in fact the cover image captures the album's atmosphere with perfect accuracy. It's an interesting shift in direction, and I applaud the band for venturing out beyond the limits of an oversaturated scene, but perhaps Heiden will refine this metamorphosis to create a more memorable experience the next time out. Aside from "Catharsis" I found little to come back to.


Heiden - Obsidian - 77%

EduardoMarinho, January 8th, 2010

Heiden were another unknown band for me. They’re from Czech Republic and formed in 2003. In their first two records, “Potomkům Pozemského Soumraku” (2004) and “Tinne” (2005), they played Pagan Black Metal, but in “Era 2” (2007), there were already some differences flourishing in their sound. “Obsidian” is their fourth full-length and it also brings changes, just like its predecessor. According to some info, Heiden now play an organic mixture of Black/Doom and Rock full of negativity and melancholy. After some listening, we conclude although the description is correct, it’s not that simple to tag the band’s style accurately.

The opening song, “Nostalgia Echo”, is slow, cold and distant. However, since it works as an intro, we don’t have an exact idea of what to expect from the rest of the album. It’s “Catharsis”, a mid-tempo track and more related to a heavy and dark Rock than to Black Metal, that starts opening the black curtains. On “Triad” we have blastbeats for the first time. Despite being a faster and heavier track than the previous one, its formula isn’t much different from “Catharsis”. Then we have the slow-paced “At a Funeral”, which slightly reminds of Mayhem and Shining, where Kverd's singing sounds similar to Attila and Kvarforth. It’s also worthy to mention the awesome guitar work, which enhances even more the coldness of this release. With “Post Lux Tenebras”, Heiden step away a little from their standard formula and present us the fastest and heaviest song from “Obsidian”. The track's groovy riffs, in the vein of later Satyricon or Khold’s Black n’ Roll, as well as its heaviness make this full-length even more interesting

However, this record has its drawbacks too. First, some songs seem to have filler parts. Sounds like the band is just playing them to increase the length of the album. Second, “Buried 100 Years Ago” is completely different from the other tracks. Despite being a very interesting and depressive song, it has nothing to do with what we heard formerly.

Still, Heiden’s 4th full-length is a worthy release. Despite having some imperfections, I believe "Obsidian" will please dark and melancholic Metal fans.

Heiden - Obsidian - 80%

Phuling, May 19th, 2009

Heiden have stepped away from their original paganized black metal and turned towards a more progressive black metal sound, incorporating some doom metal as well as a few rock moments. But unless you’re super-scared of development I think an old fan can enjoy this new piece as well. I mean, it’s not like when Vintersorg suddenly went all haywire.

The opening track "Nostalgia echo" is an ominous foreboding of what to come, and where the doom elements are most prominent. It’s set at a slow pace and with a haunting guitar line, as a voice whispers lyrics from Dante’s "Divine comedy". But with that track out of the way I find myself in a Czech "Halmstad" album. This reminds me a whole lot of Shining, in riffing with its cold atmosphere, in drumming with its rather simple beat and vocally due to its spiteful voice. I get an even stronger Shining vibe towards the end of "Trojice" as the rumbling riffage sets in. Just put on "Besvikelsens dystra monotoni" from the "Halmstad" album and you’ll see what I mean.

But nonetheless we’re not dealing with a copycat act. Every now and then the older influences shine through, like for instance in the previously mentioned "Trojice" where some odd sounds have been used (I can’t identify the instruments, but it fits with the concept of paganism). It is a masterfully crafted album that flows very naturally in between tracks and throughout its 40 minutes. Some beautiful, gloomy melodies have been thrown in every now and then, a sudden abrupt pace change switches the mood. But all in all the atmosphere is very daunting and harsh, presented in a thick sound that really lets the heavier moments take effect. The grimness (if I may be so cheesy as to use the expression ‘grim’) of black metal have been mixed with the sombre atmosphere of doom metal, while still incorporating loads of groove and heavy elements.

And the end-result does still remind me a lot of Shining, as it seems to end up somewhere in the same diffuse genre-labeling; black/doom/rock. But this also means I would recommend the album to both doom metal freaks and fans of suicidal black metal. Excellent songs, great musicianship, wicked vocals and beautiful artwork.

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