DEMO REVIEW: Obsidian Tongue

I suppose one could feel “kvlt” about buying a band’s demo on tape…. Seriously, though, it’s 2011. At least New England black metal band Obsidian Tongue only charges at live performances for their demo–and the music itself is more than worth it.

To further add to the “underground” feeling, the production is of low quality. It’s not a totally poor-sounding bedroom recording like Striborg or I Shalt Become. All the instruments come through clearly and are well balanced. The main problem is that the volume is incredibly low. Forcing listeners to crank their sound systems on cassette tapes also forces them to hear all of the static and signs of poor production. While there is a certain charm to all of this, digital recording and CD burning are more readily available nowadays. If I had a point system in my reviews I’d probably take some off for the packaging. I’d bring some back, though, as the folded-up lyric sheet inside looks like it took some work to write by hand. The artwork on the front is pretty cool as well.

The atmosphere of the music is very dark and desolate sounding. To convey such powerful emotions and mood is impressive enough; it is doubly so when one considers the band has no bassist. Obsidian Tongue is comprised of Brendan on guitars, keyboards, and vocals, and Greg on drums and vocals (no last names are given). Bass lines are evident in Brendan’s finger-picked guitar parts, and unnecessary in the songs’ heavier moments. As musicians, they also display some technical skill without getting too flashy. There is one moment near the end of the album where Brendand speed-pics over slow keyboards and drums, which is mildly annoying. Other than that, the five original pieces on this demo showcase a lot of talent and creativity without straying too far from the dark atmosphere. They also included a cover of Neruosis’ “Away.”

Obsidian Tongue performs live around New England, their music sounding just as intimate on stage as on the demo. I highly recommend checking out either way, or both. Aside from the format and production issues, I give this demo horns up.


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