Obelyskkh – Hymn to Pan | Review

I’d heard the name Obelyskkh a few times over the past couple years but never had a chance to check them out. I’d probably heard the name because they’ve released albums in three consecutive years now. 2011’s 'Mount Nysa', 2012’s 'White Lightnin’ and now 2013’s 'Hymn to Pan'. The German quartet has been categorized as psychedelic doom and that’s a fair approximation but on Hymn to Pan there’s much more to it than that. While based in doom, elements of sludge, ambient, stoner metal, noise and even hardcore thread their way into the gaps to make 'Hymn to Pan' a diverse but cohesive effort.

The title track opens the album but not with the expected instrument. You’d expect to hear panpipes on an ode to the god of the wild, but instead warhorns hearken the arrival of the leaden fuzz Obelyskkh employ on this and much of the album. Setting the tone for Hymn, layered vocals (hollered/refined and clean) infiltrate the dynamics between crushing riffs and more open melodies. Much of the melody found here feels hidden, like secrets everyone already knows.

A stoned out groove drives “The Ravens” and the second part of “Horse”. The latter’s first half features a marching sludge riff trading off with visceral screams until the “Can you dig it?” sample marks the transition to triumphant desert rock tone and some crazy soloing. Changes in tempo are prevalent throughout the album, as referenced by an almost biker rumble and roll that drops into some seriously slow and doomy atmospherics and a contemplative Americana section on “Revelation: The Will to Nothingness”. And that’s just the first five minutes of that 20 plus minute epic.

“The Man Within” and “Heaven’s Architrave” similarly work heavy, militant riffs against swirling melodies, warm tones, ambient, almost alien sounds and the aforementioned vocal dynamics. More often that not, relatively simple, repetitive riffs act like a tranquilizer, sedating the listener into a blissful state while the real work is done with subtlety. The vocals cut away at the fabric of the mind while layers of guitar and synths stitch it back together. When all is said and done you’re all back in one piece but Obelyskkh leave a mark like a scar with 'Hymn to Pan'. It’s a deviously lush, maliciously heavy and wholly satisfying experience in yes, psychedelic doom.

Matt Hinch

Band info: www.facebook.com/TheObelyskkhRitual
Label info: www.mainstreamrecords.de

Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Ghost Cult Magazine, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @MetalMatt_KofN.