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Zen Like You Mean It - 90%

GuntherTheUndying, April 2nd, 2015

“Suspended in the Brume of Eos” is something of towering significance among the ordinary clusters of metal groups that mostly rehash classic albums or pander to trends. I’ve been drawing blanks as to how to describe Obsequiae since stumbling on the band’s debut by happenstance. I’ve heard Obsequiae called melodic death metal, black metal with pagan touches, medieval folk metal; even something nebulous like ‘dark melodic metal’ has become a feasible tag, apparently. The intriguing thing is that all of these sounds and labels apply, yet none makes a clear and convincing case to be the ground on which Obsequiae stands. The genre confusion is, however, something extraordinary, as “Suspended in the Brume of Eos” sounds completely unique and natural, and manages to capture an organic vision of multiple textures that are masterfully intertwined.

The tapestry of the album is rather simple in contrast to all the influences that are obviously significant to the gentlemen of Obsequiae. The constant storms of medieval and folk melodies zipping above riffs often found in the niches of black metal and death metal are done in an unhurried, calculated carefulness that certainly does not qualify as ‘busy music.’ Most of this is mid-paced in nature, though blast beats and more up-tempo guitar parts still reflect a sense of tranquility. While the vocals are harsh, and moments of aggression are common, the end result is something unique; meditative and serene folk-ish medieval metal stuff. It helps that the band is never short on superb melodies or hooking segments within each tune that don’t run on the gimmick of sounding distinctive, but instead greatly enrich the record’s sound and explore its depth.

Songwriting is what comes first and foremost throughout “Suspended in the Brume of Eos.” Its dynamic tracks and guitar parts were put together under the care of an idiosyncratic scope without driving them down into the bowels of unmatched pompousness. Fluidly the songs flow through a conduit of folk/medieval sequences always boasting rich lead guitar work on a large spectrum of sounds and influences, never once feeling unauthentic. The title track, in particular, sums up Obsequiae’s strengths in a vibrant display, applying arrangements that drive on robust riffs while using phenomenal lead guitar bits and melodies to add a mossy, organic aura to the death/black metal overtones; it is a wonderful tune.

Obsequiae puts itself in a position to not have its pretty little shrine screwed up. Even the serene interludes—throwaway/filler tunes, as per the norm—are excellent pacing sequences used to properly show the many dynamics of the group at work. Rare is it to find a piece of metal this interesting, this engaged, this comfortable in its own skin. Obsequiae is something special to observe; the care and delicacy in these tracks is a feat often ignored by most rush-it-out metal bands. Flawlessly performed, eccentrically colored, superbly crafted without the snobbery—“Suspended in the Brume of Eos” in a nutshell.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com

Suspended in mesmerizing polyphony - 89%

Lycaon, November 14th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Bindrune Recordings (Digipak)

The Middle Ages hold a special allure to me, perhaps the most of all the historic ages. That's not exactly original, the fantasy genre is almost entirely based in them, as is a large part of pen & paper and computer gaming, heavy metal, many more historic movies taking place in that time instead of say, Renaissance, and so on. Personally I've wondered before why is that so, since we are clearly historically aware that it was such a backwards age. Surely, its romanticization by films and literature had its effect, but what was there to inspire it in the first place? For a start, it is sometimes forgotten that the Middle Ages had their undoubted contribution to high art, from Gothic architecture to early plainchant and early polyphony in music, the masterpieces by Perotin, Hildegard von Bingen, Guillaume de Machaut, that bear this unique "spirituality" that is seldom found in music even 10 centuries after. Oh, badass knights and their castles too (back on that later).

Obsequiae is a US band from Minnesota that is, as you surely must have guessed, heavily influenced by the medieval period both in music and general aesthetic. We are greeted with a wonderful cover taken from a 15th century fresco, that depicts a typically symbolic scene of a lady out in nature, accompanied by the usual pets every hip lady should have had at the time, a unicorn, a lion and a monkey. The title of the album itself is a perfect companion to the scene and was actually what lulled me into checking the album in the first place. But, let's hit play; two folkish guitar leads kick in right ahead in counterpoint, enthusiastic, robust and bright, as exactly you would have expected the glorious morning light to sound. They are accompanied by screaming vocals and powerful drums, both sounding somewhat reserved at the same time, like well-mannered medieval lads engaging in court etiquette (ok, let's say medieval duel etiquette and be more metal). The overall style of the band seems hard to pin down, carrying a black metal feeling but featuring little blasting, tremolo picking or dissonance, not brazen enough to be labelled pagan metal, too harsh and virile to be "melodic death metal". It's actually closer to the very beginnings of the latter genre, for example the first Opeth album or the Dark Tranquility demo, in which DT, ignoring the typical thrash riffing of the era, attempted something like a bold embodiment of nature in its beauty and ferocity alike, exactly as the "Vernal Awakening" title sums up.

To be more precise, the medieval elements in the music of Obsique are closer to the folk music of troubadours than the churchy stuff I mentioned in the beginning; even the pseudonyms of the two members are actual names of musicians from the 12-13th century, even though the polyphony that characterizes the interplay between the guitar tracks of the album wasn't really heard until Renaissance, when composers starting making polyphonic compositions out of these folky, bouncy melodies we've came to associate with jousting, tavern partying and so on. Not that this is important, as Obsequiae are clearly a metal band, not some medieval fest re-enactment troupe. In a metal band, there is almost always an extra-musical will that drives the creation, something beyond historicism, epistemology, a personal will-to-power that concerns this very world, even if obscured by reference to fantastic ones. Especially in such a regal, high-brow band such as Obsequiae.

Feeling this, I was disappointed not to receive any lyrics in the BC download, site, or wherever else, so my only point of reference was an Invisible Oranges interview of the band. In which, however, apart from the lyric absence being justified rather crudely (I get it about the CD insert, don't see why they couldn't be uploaded somewhere) we at least get a sum-up of the lyric themes (" dreamlike fantasies which attempt to illustrate simple tasks, observations, or notions and carry their symbolism into greater realizations "). Still, my questions mostly remain answered; what is in the medieval age that fascinates the band? Well, not "medieval history, fantasy novels, role-playing, video games, weapons", but just medieval music and instruments and... castles. Concerning which, the band also takes heed to note that "anyone who dislikes castles is probably a dick". I don't dislike castles, but I can think of a few reasons why someone would.

You see, sometimes we forget that castles were the exclusive residence of middle ages nobility, the class that emerged out of the feudal system to amass local power. Lords and knights have been always portrayed conveniently as the humble protectors of the weak, when in reality they were land-lords that employed large populations of peasants in their farms, to harness almost all of the wealth coming from their work, in exchange for protection (or, obviously, "protection", at times). There were as responsible for epic feats of bravery, for patronizing the arts, as they were for maintaining the all-known misery, poverty and rigid hierarchical system of the middle ages. This is actually where my concern about medieval-inspired metal lies; it's no lie that as the larger part of the power and resplendence of the ages comes from the aristocracy, there is often an implied, or perhaps subconscious endorsement (and a meeting point with some contemporary right-wing politics) of it by many bands within the "genre". However, I would not lump Obsequiae into this category, for not only there are no such references, but interestingly the lyrics to "The Wounded Fox" posted in the I.O. interview depict an inversion of the state of power between the hunter and the haunted, an antithesis to the ideal of perpetual, hierarchical, supposedly "natural" order that must be maintained in such a worldview. Hopefully they don't think I'm a dick too.

Getting back to the music, the only drawback that I can attest to is that the mood does not differentiate that much throughout the album; certainly Obsequiae have a distinguishable, personal style, characterized by an interchange of mid tempo folkish guitar leads with faster, tremolo riffing parts that could be labeled as melodic black metal or death metal, depending on the case. After the first half of the album has passed, there aren't many surprises to be found though, not because there isn't variety in the wealth of musical influences, but because the mood that they are presented wavers between regal lyrical and regal angry. But this is just a minor complaint, as the quality almost never diminishes. Indeed, what shines on is the spectacular musicality of the band. Besides the already lauded intricate guitar harmonies, courtesy of (also Celestiial main-man) Blondel Del Nestle, praise must be given to the airy delivery of Neidhart von Reuental on the drums, as also for some nice bass lines that pop out once in a while. Although the band plays often quite technical parts, there is a finesse in the delivery that makes the music really breathe and succeed in its goal, also aided by a dynamic and spacey, non pro-tools sounding mix that works great, especially when listened in headphones. Also noted must be the classical guitar instrumentals, in a purely medieval style that sounds like actual transcriptions, that serve as interludes between the metal songs. The highlights of the album lie for me (not surprisingly I guess) in the moments when the band emphasizes the melodic black metal influence, such as in the epic "In the White Fields", the menacing "The Starlit Shore", not to ignore the excellent instrumental outro of the album, "Cabin Lights" that actually ends sooner than I would like.

"Suspended In the Brume of Eos" is one of the finest metal albums I've heard lately, that places Obsequiae in the esteemed category of the bands that I hold the most expectations for the future. Perhaps the only thing missing is them defining themselves in a more assured manner; in some ways (from the absence of lyrics, to the band choosing a certain obscurity both in presentation and attitude) this feels like a well-done project rather than a "main" band. Acknowledging that I am projecting my own interpretation and expectations in a supposedly objective manner, I'd like to see more clearly what they are "about" and what is their will-to-power. Neidhart mentions in the I.O. interview that "the best heavy metal has always been mired into escapism and mysticism". But, the best heavy metal has been that which was able to create and reflect, out of the escapist freedom, meaningful and powerful visions and realizations about the very real world.

Originally written for http://questunknown.blogspot.gr/

A great combination of various influences - 80%

dipym666, October 26th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Bindrune Recordings (Digipak)

This is one of those difficult ones to review. Think a base of black metal with layers of melodic death metal accompanied by a sprinkling of folk metal. I got this album after listening to ‘Altars of Moss’ which is probably the best song on the album. It sort of took me some 5-6 listens to peel off the layers, probably because I was listening to it passively at first.

Let me look at it from two angles. On one hand there are distinct features of early melodic death metal developed by In Flames and Dark Tranquillity (think Lunar Strain and Skydancer), while the other side is that of melodic black metal. ‘Altars of Moss’ sounds like a song from the early melo-death days with melodic instrumentation in various sections in the song. The band quickly cools things down with ‘Sidhe’, one of the folk-ish instrumentals to complement the overall theme of the album which is related to folklore. ‘In the White Fields’ and the title track, ‘Suspended in the Brume of Eos’ maintain a continuum of the same song structures.

The deeper you go into the album it feels as if the natural order of things becomes clearer. The band also injects a little variety as they wander more into black metal territory with ‘Atonement’ and ‘Arrows’ and manage to pull it off. ‘Boreas’, another instrumental fits in perfectly before the last epic instrumental ‘Cabin Lights’, which opens up the whole album. It is to be the last song, and the journey is complete.

Overall, the good songwriting skills of the two members are on full display and they manage to carry forward the combination of the various genres at play here. The only drawback of the album – no lyrics. When you see a beautiful European tapestry on a digipack you expect the whole package, but alas. Recommended, only if you are ready to immerse yourself in it.

Obsequiae - Suspended In The Brume Of Eos - 85%

Witchfvcker, June 9th, 2014

Formed in 1998 under the name of Autumnal Winds, it took 13 years until guitarist/vocalist Blondel de Nesle (also of funeral doom outfit Celestiial) and bassist/drummer Neidhart von Reuental, now collectively known as Obsequiae, released their first full-length. The result, bearing the intriguing title Suspended In The Brume Of Eos, boasts a melodic blend of black and folk metal with a substantial medieval bent. As Obsequiae prepares to release the follow-up, 20 Buck Spin are reissuing the debut on vinyl with updated cover art.

Music being labeled as “medieval metal” ultimately smacks of a cheap gimmick. Ingeniously, Obsequiae shies away from cliches; their music wholeheartedly invokes panoramic vistas of deep woodlands and triumphant battlefields. Recognizably pantheistic in concept, parallels are easily drawn to Agalloch, Falls Of Rauros, and their ilk. Intricate melodies paints archaic landscapes, underpinned by Reuental’s amiable rhythm-section. The broad and expansive strokes are favorably comparable to the brush of Pale Folklore, also mirrored in Nesle’s feral screams.

Somewhat predictably the album is divided by several acoustic intermissions. This is of course an unwritten rule of pagan metal, but it’s also the only point at which Suspended…feels slightly derivative. The rest of the material ranges from progressive sprawling epics that rival Dissection at their best, and shorter bursts of primordial aggression. Mainly driven by dueling guitar harmonies, intense atmospheres are conjoined with unforgettable riffs. To dismiss Obsequiae as folk metal would be a big disservice indeed; this is far and above your garden variety collection of glorified drinking songs.

By completely dedicating themselves to timbery atmosphere and gorgeous melodies, Obsequiae effectively overshadow most of their kind by a large margin. There is a untamed yet oddly sophisticated allure to Suspended In The Brume Of Eos, a rare but wonderful addition to the dark metal pantheon. As Reuental departed soon after the release of this album, it will be interesting to see how the upcoming continuation turns out. For the time being, Suspended…is a powerful and monumental album that is aching to be (re)discovered.


Written for The Metal Observer

Immediately and Immensely Intoxicating - 93%

atanamar, January 2nd, 2012

In the heart of every music fan there is a shrine of sound, a cache of albums that comprise our sonic comfort zone. Most likely, these albums cannot be touched; any attempt by modern musicians to reproduce their ethos will produce derivative, hollow simulacra. Obsequiae have achieved the miraculous; they've recorded an album that strides directly into my own musical sanctum. This is not achieved by apery or homage, but by honest, genuine, unique and creative musicianship. Suspended In The Brume Of Eos sits in the inimitable company of Opeth's Orchid and Morningrise, In Flames' Lunar Strain and Jester Race, as well as Dissection's The Somberlain.

Suspended In The Brume Of Eos places trust in the fundamental metal truth of dueling, intertwined guitars. I'm not talking about the evolved, maniacal approach of a Barr/Marston, but the primal synergy of a Murray/Smith. Throw rasping, demonic vocals on top of venomous aggression and we're talking about the basis of what is now derisively called melodic death metal. Obsequiae certainly employ its devices, but they compose music that pre-dates the term, conjuring a sound that transcends the vagaries of genre that has long-since self-destructed.

Obsequiae synthesize classical and medieval atmospheres into cold hard riffs. Suspended In The Brume Of Eos is a concise and compelling marathon of absurd, astronomically satisfying riffage. Lodged between its tracks lurk mandatory, clean classical guitar passages of stunning quality; I'd expect nothing less. Suspended In The Brume Of Eos trots in a vast array of velocities. The swifter tracks rock with neck-snapping grooves and serpentine, tremolo picked torrents, rolling on well oiled rhythmic rails. Slower passages let uncanny, haunting melodies sing with sepulchral resonance. The articulate, vibrant drumming accentuates the album's accomplished air; Obsequiae breeze along as if this were child's play. The album is skillfully produced, mastered on the quiet side to effect an expansive dynamic range.

Obsequiae get it, they own it, they kill it. Music of this sort treads near a precipice beyond which lurks a sea of cheese. Obsequiae boldly navigate this narrow path of awesomeness and never once approach the edge. If victorious, soaring, sonic warfare is your thing, Suspended In The Brume Of Eos will have you banging your head uncontrollably and throwing fists of fury towards the sky. If not, have a nice day.

Originally published here: http://www.metalinjection.net/reviews/cd-review-obsequiae-suspended-brume-eos

Suspended in the seasons and sorrows - 80%

autothrall, July 18th, 2011

Obsequiae is essentially a reconvening of the Minnesota project Autumnal Winds, who produced a stream of demos in the last decade that led to a brief hiatus, Blondel de Nesle's work in the rustic funeral doom act Celestiial just beginning to take off. Those who are expecting a similar drone-based, spacious and grim exercise in stark natural minimalism might be very surprised here, because if anything, Obsequiae is a cogent study in heavily melodic, unending floods of Medieval/folk guitars drifting atop simpler beats and rasped vocals, almost an antithesis of Celestiial, anchored by the rhythmic skill of multi-instrumentalist Neidhart von Reuental (and no, I do not have a clue if these are their real names).

Suspended in the Brume of Eos is a substantial effort, defined through its contrast of lush acoustic segues and driving, fell glories that feel decidedly European in origin. Obviously the nearest parallel one would find would be the pagan/folk metal genre from overseas, but I liken the material most to the track "Moonshield" by In Flames (before they got all metrosexual). An excellent song, and perhaps an unexpected comparison that many would scoff at, but imagine that track's winding and beautiful string melodies being woven throughout 42 minutes of new, original material, wrought between lovely acoustic shorts like "Sidhe", "Wildes Heer", and thundering, desperate romps like "Altars of Moss", "In the White Fields" and the night overwhelming instrumental "Cabin Lights" which had my thoughts reeling towards the past with its crescendos of dual melody. The duo also provides a basis of straight, aggressive black metal as in "Arrows", which is more of a wall of sound chord onslaught, so there is enough variation here that it doesn't feel like the same gilded guitar graces repeated into monotony.

The production is fluent without being excessively polished, and here is where the band's own rustic tendencies shine, for there's this natural backbone. It's very easy to close one's eyes during this offering and conjure up images of knights and ladies fair gallivanting through the woods, often in bliss and harmony, but often with their heels set upon by the jaws of raving wolves. I can't say I was a huge fan of the vocals here, because they're simply all too common contrasted with the more engrossing and eloquent guitar licks, but in tandem the two function as intended. Suspended in the Brume of Eos is easily recommended for fans of the seasonal and rural in their black metal, perhaps a dash of earlier Agalloch (Pale Folklore or The Mantle era), Opeth circa (Morningrise), or Canadians Woods of Ypres (only Obsequiae is far superior to that lot by any conceivable standard). You're not likely to hear much in a similar vein this year, and this full-length should evolve into an album of choice for fall foliage sightings and stirring regrets. Score another sleeper for Bindrune Recordings.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com