Sunday, March 11, 2007

Double The Obscenity, Doubly Great Viking Metal

Twin Obscenity is one of the most under-rated viking Metal bands I know. I own one of their 3 albums (and have downloaded most of one and all of the other) but I cannot find copies of the 2 I downloaded. This is why I feel they are not being recognized as the metal masters they are. I don't know if they are still active, but former guitarist Alexander Twiss and former keyboardist Mona Undheim Skottene are present in the more widely available band Myriads (I await my copies of their 2 albums and, from what I've sampled, are phenomenal Gothic doom death metal).

Ironically Twin Obscenity's latest release (2001's Bloodstone) is the album I couldn't completely download. I own the second album and have successfully downloaded the full length 1997 debut. In all fairness, I missed my chance to purchase "Bloodstone" as I didn't know I would like the band yet. I took a chance on their second release "For Blood, Honour And Soil" and loved it, but by then "Bloodstone" had been purchased by someone and was never re-supplied. Ah, but that is the life of a Canadian metalhead who loves the imports.

Twin Obscenity get their name from (as I gather) a Lovecraftian mythos base that was expanded on by author August Derleth (HP Lovecraft distributer) and co-author Mark Schorer. August and Mark introduced the creature in their short story "The Lair Of The Star-Spawn" (1932). The Twin Obscenities is made up of the fictional deities Zhar and Lloigor (The Great Ones) who dwell beneath the buried city of Alaozar on the Plateau of Sung and are thought to be joined by a series of giant tentacles.

Now Twin Obscenity's lyrics are in no way based solely around HP Lovecraft or the Cthulhu Mythos (though there is minor reference notably on the instrumental track "Revelations Of Glaaki") but they are steeped in Old Norse Lore and Viking culture and mythology. And the music you ask? Well it is solid melodic black metal with death metal vocals and doom/folk elements on top of being a viking metal band. That is, if I had to simplify.

Starting with their full length debut "Where Light Touches None" this is an album with black metal riffing and largely dominant death metal vocals. I like the mix especially when they are used together and give such a dark "evil" feel. The album opens with "Dark Millenniums End" which is a fast black metal tune that leads into the equally fast "When The Chains Are Broken" that adds more Viking musical influence and doomy touches. It has a killer chorus too.

"Like The Death Of A Sorceress", "The Infernal Dance Of Prince Kaleth" and "Enchanted By The Empress Beauty" are similar doom influenced black metal songs that a very dark and sinister. "Empress ..." and "Infernal ..." feature some outstanding female vocals by TonjeEttesvoll that, at times, harmonize with the guitars. A chilling combination. Female vocals are also present on the dark folky "Where Light Touches None". There is something unsettling when a female soprano sings ~We Hunt Down and Feast on our Prey~. The instrumental "Revelation Of Glaaki" features the female vocal melody lines as well as some brooding narration by Vegar Hoel. The tune is almost progressive at times, but never feels out of place.

My favourite track is "Tribute To Mortality". Vegar recites a dark poetic narration that is bone-chilling. Mix that with the melodically fast black/death metal vocals and riffs and a sinister use of keyboards bringing together a dark and haunting song while never losing its intensity and brutality. One of their best songs altogether.

Twin Obscenity's follow up "For Blood, Honour and Soil" continues the black/death brutality and the melody is still strong though carried more by the guitars and the viking feel is more prominent which adds an air of majesticness. The pummelling opener "In Glorious Strife" is hooky and hauntingly atmospheric. Unsettling keys add a majestic feel to "The Usurper's Throne" which is brooding and haunting. You really feel for the old king's turmoil, a very passionate song.

The title track "For Blood, Honour And Soil", "Upon The Mourning Field" and "Laid To Rest By The Sword" are melodic darkly enchanting tunes and majestic in a solid wall of sound. "Mourning .. " features one of their best riffs as does "The Thrice-Damned Legions". Melodic and catchy. The instrumental "The Wanderer" is fast, melodic and bombastic with war/fighting sounds used to great effect.

My favourite song here is "The 11th Hour" which has got to be their most hauntingly dark songs that hints at beauty. It's disturbingly poetic and gloomy. It is doom laden and has a cool solo. A very chilling song.

Their 3rd and last album "Bloodstone" is like a blend of the first 2 and was cementing the band as very original sounding, at least to my ears. It opens with the brooding acoustic instrumental "Adoration Of The Moon" that foreshadows the kind of haunting intensity to come. We are then assaulted by the melodically hooky and dark "The Legacy" which features some killer riffs. "At The Rising Of The Sun" and "Terraforming" are more traditional black metal tunes, but the melody is strong and the new addition of vocalist Steffen Simenstad adds a more grindcore black metally voice that enhances the Viking feel. "Dragon's Breath" and the title track "Bloodstone" have the signature melodic doomy riff work by Atle Wiig that is both moving and darkly enchanting.

My favourite track is "Serenade Of The Sea" which loors the listener in like the Siren's of lore and is hauntingly beautiful with the heavenly vocals of Tonje Ettesvoll. It is a doom-laden song with mid-paced black metal riffing and some solid chunky work during the solo. A wonderful blend of darkness and beauty. I have not heard "A Land Forlorn" and "A New Beginning" but I would think they are equally as grandiose as the rest of the album.

Twin Obscenity's music is very melodic even when they are blisteringly fast. They have a wonderful sense for song structure. They are majestic and dark although they aren't one of the heavier bands in the genre. I love the doom influences and the melodies are of a folk/viking influence and are very memorable. I have no bad comments about this band. Everything they have done is wonderful, the lyrics are poetic as are the vocals which are quite legible for black/death metal. Anyone who likes viking/folk metal and even doom should try and check them out.

Up next are another under-rated viking metal masters, Moonsorrow. They will be quite a challenge to review as their latest release is only 2 songs at 26 min and 31 min respectively.

Wish me luck!


Anonymous Cat Lover said...

Nothing like a beer belly under costume quality body armor! Meow!

8:45 AM  
Blogger etain_lavena said...

well I never knew about them, but now I do....kewl!!!

11:01 AM  

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