Pillars of Creation
Released 29 Aug 2019
8.75
Mixed vocals

Obsidian Tide – Pillars of Creation: A successful marriage between opposites.

Progressive metal is a genre of extremes. Many bands go fundamentally different directions and search for the edge of the genre, that's how progress happens. It's one of the fundamentals of the genre. But what if progression could also mean to experiment in the realm right in the middle of it? That's what I feel Obsidian Tide did with their debut Pillars of Creation.

Sounds like these guys didn't take any risks, right? Wrong. They took a huge risk, the risk of being endlessly compared to the likes of Opeth and Tool. So yes, let's get that out the way first. This album sits right in the middle of Lateralus and Blackwater Park, arguably two of the biggest behemoths of the genre. But also two opposites. Trying to marry these two, is a huge undertaking only few could succeed in.

Obsidian Tide manages to bring those worlds together. The world of the ethereal and the world of despair. They not only manage to do it, they also do it with such finesse it leaves you stunned. You'll be left wondering why this wasn't done before, why no other band had hit that sweet spot.

Opening track ‘Pillars of Creation’ should give you a hint. The track demonstrates what is needed to pull off such a feat. The violin, the timbre of the clean vocals, the emotion in the harsh vocals and the sublime songwriting. We need all of that to balance on the thin line this band has stretched out for us.

Seven’ opens up with heavy drumbeating and soon a beautiful mesmerising voice layers on top off it. Melodies in both clean and harsh vocals urge you to close your eyes and dream off to a different place. We're not only balancing on that thin line now, we're dancing on it. While at first we were afraid their stage wouldn't be big enough, their line too thin, they're now showing us they're more than well-trained rope dancers. All that's left for us is to enjoy the show.

They further cement that feeling with ‘King of a New Realm’. The intro sounds like the perfect blend between Peter Gabriel's ‘Solsbury Hill’ and ‘Don't Give Up’, but that might just be my weird brain playing tricks on me. Also, a brief comparison with anything by Peter Gabriel shouldn't be something to be afraid of. The piano intermezzo speaks volumes for their risk taking, it works wonders in this song.

Portent of Betrayal’ progresses into something we can compare more with something out of the catalogue of Mikael Åkerfeldt, also a badge you should wear with honour. We low-key promised to get those comparisons out of the way, but this one we couldn't pass up. They know it, we know it. It's fine.

Hiraeth’ brings some space and with that I feel like we all realize it's the highlight of the album. When the clean and harsh vocals sing in harmony, we reach the exact spot we wanted: the middle of the thin line. The space progressive metal had reserved for Obsidian Tide.

I won't spoil the last two tracks, both of them should be experienced instead of being written about. I'll tell you this much: even in the last moments of the album there's still some surprises left.

Stylistically, Pillars of Creation falls perfectly in the sweet spot, no progressive metal fan would not like it. With that being said, emotionally it also falls in that sweet spot. But with emotions that's not so much referred to as a sweet spot, I would rather call that neutral ground. That's where my only gripe with the album comes in: I don't know what to feel from it. I will give it more time, to let my emotions develop with the album. Until that time there's still the sheer brilliant songwriting, the outstanding production and the technical excellence to enjoy.

For a debut, this is a yaw dropping record. If they do exactly this and strain away from the emotional neutral ground, we have a masterpiece on our hands with their next album.