A Year With No Summer
(Season of Mist)
Obsidian Kingdom are one of the most promising new prog acts around because they don’t do things the way we expect bands to do (hey, what a concept in prog, eh?). The Spanish band’s much-loved debut was a genre-spanning mix that was most easily labeled post-metal, hitting the sweet spot among progressive, post, and experimental ideads. Mantiis proves to be more foreshadowing for the greatness that would unravel in the band’s sophomore release. At first,A Year With No Summer feels like a giant leap for the Spanish progressive rock group, and it surely is. However, in the context of the promise showcased in the band’s debut, the shift to a brand of prog that is heavy and weighty without resorting to stereotypical metal tropes feels natural. This is dark and moody music of the highest order, where melody and riffs are second to the emotions the music can convey. And with an album about a horrifying scenario with no Summer, there are emotions aplenty.
That’s not to say there is no distortion on here because that would be untrue. Songs like “Away Absent” use metal as just another wonderful flavoring agent in the band’s sound. However, Obsidian Kingdom’s masterful use of space and noise is still used to great effect here. It’s all done in a frame of mind that is closest to prog while not being too distant from their excellent past. Imagine if Pink Floyd grew up on a diet of Leprous, Riverside, and Black Metal, and you’re on the right track. That said, listening to A Year With No Summer is a different kind of joy, one that requires multiple careful listens to fully appreciate. It’s a challenging album, and I doubt the band would be upset at that notion. The record is incredibly dense and, when at its loudest and heaviest, almost disorienting, so it takes time to unsnarl. Talking about individual tracks feels like walking down an upward escalator because this isn’t a track album; you have to listen to the whole to appreciate it, and individual track distinctions aren’t particularly obvious.
Obsidian Kingdom have completely exceeded their promise laid out in Mantiis with their excellent sophomore record. By expanding on their prog tendencies and toning down the metallic aspects, the group have shown they can be one of the best of the rising prog scene. They are certainly one of the best Floydian groups in recent memory. (Nicholas Senior)