Obsequiae established a very well-defined style on their first record, and they've stuck with it ever since. The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings is their third album, and much like the second one, it offers subtle refinements and expansions of their sound, but no big surprises. If you haven't heard them, it's a great place to start; if you have, you know what to expect.
That's not a bad thing at all. If you like what they do, you'll like this album. It's chock full of flowing, triumphant medieval-European-flavored melodies and dual guitar interplay, reminding me of certain parts of Opeth's Orchid along with some other 90s melodic death, black, and folk metal. The songs remain generally mid-paced and propulsive, with the occasional blastbeat or meter shift, but nothing outlandish; the expected harp interludes are pretty-sounding, moody without being gloomy. The sense of atmosphere is well-realized and pervasive. A caustic vocal rasp echoes from within, I dunno, monastery walls? Tombs of ancient warriors? Something.
So, what's different this time around? More complex, layered songwriting and musicianship; more prominent and interesting bass lines; a detailed, full-sounding mix that's a lot more clear than their debut and more powerful than the sterile sound of their last recording; a couple of sections with clean vocal harmonies that fit in nicely, and even a spoken word bit. The details add up to a compelling experience.
My one real complaint about this band has been how homogeneous their stuff is. Every song tends to sound like a variation on the same couple of ideas, and that can make it all come across as a bit of a gimmick. I'm a fan of melodic metal and I love medieval Western music, so it's a gimmick I've enjoyed. This album doesn't feel like a gimmick. It's not some great departure, but it's not a mere rehashing, either; it's deeper, clearer, more varied and nuanced than their other material. I have a special place in my heart for the energy and rough edges of their debut, and there's plenty of nice stuff on Aria Of Vernal Tombs, but this might actually be the best thing they've done.
It was 2014 when Corpsessed released their debut full length and mighty fucking good it was too. Some 4+ years later and it is time for the sophomore release to land in my music stream and seek my attention. When I say seek I actually mean possess my attention. Although the album is by no means perfect, this record grabs hold of you by your very soul, dragging it off on a journey littered with horror, darkness and crushing heaviness to boot. One of its main successes is the atmosphere that is obvious from the opening of "Impetus of the Dead" and plays an integral part over the remainder of the release.
It is a very well structured album too, with strong song writing that layers tracks up to behemoth size and proportions. Yet at the same time there's a real sense of balance too, for every cavernous and mammoth like structure there's shorter and more intense bursts that whilst moving the pace slightly away from the heaviness, don't distract too much from it. "Paroxsymal" and "Sortilege" are great examples of this, two well placed tracks that add a variety to the pace and increase the memorability of the whole experience.
The album only has two weak points for me. The penultimate track on the record seems just a random and not altogether necessary inclusion, especially given the quality of "Forlorn Burial" before it and the vast ending of "Starless Event Horizon" after it. Secondly, the production does seem to give off a muddled sound on some tracks although the horror of the atmosphere and those lead guitars certainly do rescue the day on more than one occasion. In a year that has struggled overall to bring many standout DM records, "Impetus of Death" will be a welcome addition to any fan's Top 10 DM Albums of 2018 no doubt. It is one of the stronger records of 2018 and also a fine step up from their debut offering also which makes me excited for album number 3.