February 14, 2014

Castevet - Obsian

Written by Atanamar Sunyata.

Castevet’s Mounds of Ash was a marvelous experiment in martial movement, creating a black hole in the middle of metal’s Venn diagram. The album remains, in my mind, a glorious beast of delectable dissonance and polyrhythmic savagery. It has also remained in rotation since its 2011 release.

With Obsian, Castevet have switched out a central cog of their rhythmic contraption; Nicholas McMaster (Krallice, Geryon) has replaced Josh Scott on bass. This change has produced a subtle but fundamental shift in the band’s sound, moving them away from that merciless march and further into the unknowable void. Ian Jacyszyn’s extraordinary and intricate drumming has loosened up a bit to accommodate these new sonic possibilities.

Impossibly inventive chords and arpeggiations remain at the blackened core of Castevet’s art. Andrew Hock is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting guitar players of our time. His fascinating riffs slash and churn, transmuting discord into memorable malevolence and anti-melody.

Photo by Carmelo Española.

Instead of adding constant weight to the windmilling fury of these riffs, Nicholas McMaster’s bass lines weave in and out of the mayhem, pushing the songs into anomalous dimensions. These wormholes sometimes open into lands of full-on prog; there’s a mind-blowing section of “Cavernous” that’s laden with the psychedelic glory of an early Genesis track. It makes me smile every time. The mysterious horns that graced Mounds of Ash are also more prevalent, manifesting in insidious and disquieting ways.

Although the riffs on Obsian are often as harsh as Andrew Hock’s vocals, violence is not the album’s raison d’être. A sense of wonder radiates from these multifarious compositions, as if the band are in awe of their own creation. I’m certainly in awe; Obsian is one of my favorite albums of 2013.

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