Obolus – Lament (The Flenser Records, 10 April 2012)
In the “Inferno” section of his Divine Comedy, the poet Dante describes his descent through the various circles of Hell, including the particular sins which had landed the condemned souls in each of these, and what tragic fate had been assigned to them. A large part of the allegorical nature of this tale revolves around the narrator’s interaction with some of these damned creatures; while often serving as political commentary on what he perceived as misdeeds in his own time, Dante’s poem also speaks on the evils of human nature in a far more universal sense.
Of the nine circles through which the author must pass, the seventh is the final resting place for those deemed guilty of sins of violence. This circle is further subdivided into three narrower rings. The section “Canto XIII” discusses what he sees in the second of these three rings, which is classified as sins of violence against oneself:
“… we had put ourselves within a wood,
That was not marked by any path whatever.
Not foliage green, but of a dusky colour,
Not branches smooth, but gnarled and intertangled,
Not apple-trees were there, but thorns with poison.”
“There do the hideous Harpies make their nests…
They make laments upon the wondrous trees.”
“I heard on all sides lamentations uttered,
And person none beheld I who might make them,
Whence, utterly bewildered, I stood still.”
Soon, at the urging of his netherworldly guide Virgil, our hero discovers that the voices he hears are issuing from the disfigured trees themselves, in which form are trapped the souls of those who had ended their lives by their own hands.
By breaking off a piece of one of their limbs, he finds he is able to address the tortured soul within, and have it respond to his inquiries:
“As out of a green brand, that is on fire
At one of the ends, and from the other drips
And hisses with the wind that is escaping;
So from that splinter issued forth together
Both words and blood…”
If the lamentations he heard from this poor, wretched being could be captured on tape, I’m sure the result would be extremely similar to the just-released Lament by the San Franciscan atmospheric black metal band Obolus.
In fact, each of the five tracks contained in this twenty-minute-long EP begins with an eerie silence, sometimes as much as thirty seconds, before any sound enters. I’m convinced this is caused by the delay between the time the engineer hit the “record” button and the time the sound waves actually emerged from whatever depth of Hell the band were in when they performed these songs.
“Desolation,” “Hatred,” and half of “Grievance” are awash in blackness; punctuated with piercing guitars and oversaturated by cymbals, then blanketed by atmospheric synths, with a shrieked howl that is barely even discernible as a human voice over top of it all. “Reflection,” the beginning minutes of “Grievance,” and “Lament” all step back into more introspective expressions of pure instrumental melancholy. You can hear each of these tracks, and download them for free, via the Bandcamp widget included below.
Released this past Tuesday, Lament is available on 10″ vinyl in a limited pressing; 100 copies have been struck with one grey side and one black, and an additional 400 are available in solid black. Order it here!