Label: Self-released (CD/Digital) / Red River Family Records (Cassette)
It’s safe to say that, amongst the hordes of solo black metal acts, there’s plenty of individuals who are content to do little more than recreate Transylvanian Hunger and Aske in their bedrooms and basements. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, you get the sense from a band that, even if their sound is undeniably rooted in the classics of raw and one-man black metal, there’s still a sense of ambition and a desire to grow lurking within the music. Such is the feeling present on Obsidian Moon by Elegiac, a one-man band from California. As worthy as the EP itself is, it’s hard not to feel that it’s part of a journey towards greater things, and that whilst it is clearly rooted in the cornerstones of the genre, there’s an awareness of and willingness to embrace new ideas.
Right from the first moments of the opening title track, there’s a huge weight and power to the music, both in terms of actual sound and in a more abstract, emotional sense. The guitars are absolutely crushing, with a nice level of distortion and bite, and the drums sound pretty fantastic. It’s not your typical solo black metal production. Nor is it your typical one-man black metal song. There’s a driving momentum pushing the song forward, with fairly constant changes of tempo and emphasis. A doom metal influence is also clearly present, not least on the lead during the slower mid-section, which is one of the highlights of Obsidian Moon. Overall, it’s a vicious opening statement, and bodes well for what follows.
“Apathetic Euphoria” keeps things moving in a similar manner, charging forward with a relentless opening section that isn’t too far removed from bestial war metal, before shifting slightly in to something with more groove. It’s not long until another slower lead is present, and the song continues to twist and turn, whilst sole member Zane spits out some truly rabid vocals (and it has to be said, the production on said vocals is fantastic). When the solo kicks in around the 3 minute mark, it should be obvious by now – if it wasn’t already – that you’re listening to a superbly confident and well executed piece of music, and that Obsidian Moon is an EP that deserves to stand out amongst the legions of bedroom black metal acts.
“Buried” should ram this home, for those yet to be convinced. The best song on the EP for me, it’s almost 8 minutes race by, with the riffs bringing to mind classic second wave bands as much as they do more recent punk-inspired USBM fare (Woe, Krieg, etc). There’s a fantastic movement around the 3:30 mark where things slow down considerably, and the production is so raw and overloaded that it sounds as if the bass is going to blow out; but within moments the song is moving forward again at pace, with tremolo-picked leads complementing the riffs and hammering drums perfectly. And there’s a catchiness to some of the movements that will ensure the song stays in your head long after the EP has finished. It’s a shame the song ends on a hurried fade-out though, it’s a less well defined ending than it deserves.
Sadly, closer “Dead In The Wind” doesn’t quite match up to what has gone before. It’s on this track that the doom influence is most clear, with slow, heavy riffs and a sense of space. Unfortunately, it feels a bit too slow and spacious, and doesn’t quite succeed in creating the atmosphere that it’s aspiring to. It ends up just kind of drifting by, and doesn’t hold attention in the way it’s aiming for.
Even so, this shouldn’t detract from just how good Obsidian Moon is as a whole – the other three songs are absolutely superb. And even if “Dead In The Wind” doesn’t match up to the standards they set, Obsidian Moon is still a strong, confident EP, offering further proof (were any needed in 2015) that solo black metal does not have to sound as if it were recorded in your bedroom on a shitty laptop, devoid of both ambition, purpose, or power. Those are three qualities this EP possesses in abundance, and there is still the feeling that better is yet to come from Elegiac. There has already been a huge, huge improvement since the first demo in 2014, and it’s no surprise (and quite a delight) that Elegiac’s side on the recent split release with Helvete sees Zane taking his music in different, ambitious directions again. All of which goes to prove that, even if not every song is an absolute success, Elegiac are one of the more exciting solo black metal bands active today, and are more than worthy of your attention.