Meat Machine is the newest album by Spanish progressive metal act Obsidian Kingdom, and comes to us courtesy of the ever prolific Season of Mist, as it is as gloriously fragmented, crazy and diverse as you could ever dream of.
With a record label that primarily focuses on black and death metal artists such as: Tsjuder, Rotting Christ, Carach Angren, Urns, Saor, Solstafir etc. It’s a nice change of pace to experience something as vividly lucid and violently resistant to categorization. Obsidian Kingdom have always been a band that refuse to play into genre conventions and confine themselves to any one aspect of metal music, and I feel that on Meat Machine, they have perhaps hit the full apex of their stride.
In other words, this album is gleefully all over the place, in the best way possible. Upon first viewing, tracks such as The Pump and Mr Pan stuck out for their gorgeous amalgamation of harsh and clean vocals coupled with thick industrial guitars that are reminiscent of acts like Deftones and Voivod in their experimental nature and precipice cascading between the mellow and the verbose.
Post-rock elements and extensive use of moody synthesizers are everywhere on tracks such as Flesh World and Naked Politics. The former continuing with stunning female clean vocals performed by Jade Riot Cul as the soft nature of her almost angelic highs recede into a thick Spanish accent as dreamlike shoegaze inspired guitars rise and fall over alternating low toms and punchy snare drums. It is unlike anything I have ever heard before, but it’s safe to say that after a few listens of being outside of my comfort zone here, I found myself unable to escape the entrancing force of all these different moving parts colliding together.
Not to say that there are no moments of heaviness on display here. Meat Star melds the aforementioned post-rock elements with groovy screaming lead and powerful screams by guitarist/vocalist Rider G Omega. There are moments on this release that call my mind recent efforts by Japanese metal band Dir En Grey, their prowess in genre-melding and abstract attitude to making music.
Production wise this record is an audible marvel. It is extremely clean sounding with the percussion being a particular strong point here. The drums sound powerful and are used just the right amount to accent the eccentricities of the guitars, whilst also allowing space for the soaring male/female vocals to weave in as and when necessary. It is without a doubt one of the nicest sounding albums I have heard in a long time in terms of clarity.
My favourite song from the record is A Foe. It is a slow yet building ballad of singing and spoken word over beautiful acoustic guitar and dynamic piano that help the listener reflect on everything they have just bore witness to. Without mincing words or wasting time, it is an alluring few minutes that culminate into an eerie atmosphere as low toms belt out heavy as earthquakes. This was the moment I fell in love with the release.
The weirder parts of Meat Machine are going to be what keep people coming back to this album. It would be amiss of me to openly divulge everything in a written review though. This is a record that you need to hear yourself to truly appreciate it. I think it is going to be one that people either love or may get lost within, in my opinion, it is well worth the risk either way. This album was my introduction to the band, and I can confidently say that not only will I be experiencing their back catalogue as soon as possible, but actively listening out to what they do next in the future.