Wednesday, May 20, 2015

…the temple is empty and ruined: OBSIDIAN SEA – 'Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions'

It has been three years since the Bulgarian doom duo Obsidian Sea has unleashed their excellent debut, Between Two Deserts, (review HERE) and the passage of time and the inclusion of bassist Ivaylo Dobrev into the Obsidian fold has served the band well on their follow-up, Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions. Between Two Deserts was a solid debut due to the heavy, memorable riffs and chant-like vocal cadence of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Anton Avramov, and a murky, dismal atmosphere that was successfully conveyed throughout the album. Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions is a much more varied release that trades in heft for arguably stronger compositions.

Whether it’s the inclusion of Dobrev on bass or a conscious decision by the band, but the presence of bass guitar plays a much larger role on the Obsidian Sea’s latest and to great effect. Dobrev’s presence not only adds a bit of low-end heft that was missing from the debut, but his basslines help to sculpt the tunes into sonic masterworks by not always simply following along with Avramov’s riffs. “Somnambulism,” the album’s closing track, perfectly captures the strength of Obsidian Sea’s rhythm section and captures drummer Bozhidar Parvanov at his most creative.

While solid drumming and the added presence of bass help to define the tracks found on Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions the guitar playing of Avramov is bolder, more adventurous, and his vocal range is both more expressive and more expansive. The album opener, “The Trial of Herostratus,” musically bears a remote kinship to Trouble’s Psalm 9, particularly “The Tempter,” but also illustrates Avramov’s great guitar playing, especially his soloing, and his growth as a vocalist.

One of the highlights of Between Two Deserts was the consistent, unique atmosphere that was threaded throughout the album’s nine tracks. Thankfully the band successfully wields a similar magic on their sophomore effort, though there are more nuances for the band to explore. “Confession,” the album’s second track, creeps along with a sepulchral ambiance largely due to the spacey, effect-laden bassline of Dobrev. The tasteful inclusion of organ courtesy of Nikolay Karakehayov on tracks “Child in the Tower” and “Mulkurul” adds depth and variety to the compositions. “Child in the Tower” may be the strongest track penned by the band and shows the trio at their most creative.

Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions is a stunning release from start to finish and stands as one of the year’s strongest releases, particularly in the doom sphere. And while the band’s debut, Between Two Deserts, was a solid release it is heartening to hear the band progress to such a high level of songwriting. Fans of traditional debut will not be disappointed as the band delivers on every level. Highly recommended…



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