Enthroned has been at the black metal game for quite a while, almost 20 years at the time of this writing! While they’ve never been the most innovative or groundbreaking band, their sound has certainly evolved over the years, but not so much so that they’ve become a completely different band (even if that’s literally true; the last remaining founding member of the band left in 2006). Obsidium, the band’s ninth studio album, continues that trend and furthers the band’s commitment to impiety and sacrilege.
With that said, the band’s tradition of making dark, intense black metal remains unchanged. Much of the album is Enthroned doing what they do best—intense and destructive whirlwinds of unholy fury. However, it’s not all blast beats and tremolo picking. The band is smart enough to know when to shift the mood of the track and introduce other elements to keep the songs from growing stale. There are a couple moments that stand out to me which have ominous (and very creepy) chants in the background, accompanied by skin-crawling melodies that lends the album an air of occult malice. It’s in these moments that the album excels, thanks to the band’s ability for crafting wicked melodies.
Obsidium is the second album the band has produced in their personal studio, Blackout Multimedia. They’ve refined their techniques since Pentagrammaton, as this album has much fuller sound. The guitars are absolutely lethal here, having a thicker sound than they had on the last album. Drums sound more natural this time around too, largely abandoning the artificial qualities from before. And despite having an intense whirlwind of black metal madness behind them, the vocals manage to be right where they need to be in the mix, never sounding obscured by the rest of the music.
The band’s performances are great too. The drumming never lets up and the guitarists never seem to hit a bad note. But to me, Nornagest offers the strongest performance here with his blasphemous roars. The conviction behind his voice is enough proof that he sincerely believes in every word that he speaks.
If you weren’t a fan of Enthroned’s past albums, Obsidium isn’t likely to change your mind. But the band has taken the effort to hone and refine their sound over the years, so you may want to give them another chance if you haven’t given them the proper amount of attention over the years.