Pillars of Creation is the first full length album by OBSIDIAN TIDE, a prog metal band hailing from Tel Aviv. Their style is an interesting mix of disparate influences, mostly from past and present bands from the prog/black metal subgenre but not limited to that, since their compositions are interspersed with passages leaning on folk, jazz, classical music or progressive rock.
OBSIDIAN TIDE was founded in 2012 by singer/guitarist Oz Avneya, soon joined by bass player Shachar Bieber (who also handles harsh vocals) and drummer Erez Nadler; in 2015 they produced the EP Debris and in 2019 Pillars of Creation, a 55 minute long concept album that follows a man on his path towards enlightenment, guiding us through the events that shape him.
As I wrote earlier, numerous influences are evident in OBSIDIAN TIDE's music. At first, listening to the songs Pillars of Creation and Seven I was reminded of ORPHANED LAND, the former band of Yossi Sassi, in the structure of several of the tracks of Pillars there is a prevalence in the use of the natural minor scale / Phrygian mode which gives a middle eastern colour to the composition, and there is the same style in alternating parts with clean singing and growl. Continuing to listen, the strongest connection appeared instead to be with OPETH, especially from the Watershed period or immediately preceding, both for the style of the guitar riffs and for the lines of both melodic singing and growl. The last reference that I feel like making, because it is much less prevalent, is with A Murder of Crows by DEADSOUL TRIBE, for the use in certain passages of almost tribal percussion and for a certain taste in the choice of bass and guitar timbres and in the way the flute intervenes in certain compositions.
OBSIDIAN TIDE manage to blend these influences in a coherent and solid style, seasoned with interventions by guest musicians who change the colour of the compositions. In particular, I found Danielle Sassi's flute passages on several of the tracks and Nitzan Habler's piano break in King of a New Realm successful.
The structure of the tracks is very articulated and varied, with frequent changes of style and alternation between harder and softer passages, underlined by the passing of the baton between the clear voice of Avneya and the growl of Bieber; similarly, the more metal sections tend to be less layered and more direct, while the arrangement is enriched in quieter passages, often taking on hues from jazz, classics or folk also due to the contribution of the guest musicians.
All the performers are decidedly competent, and thanks to the quality of the production it is also possible to appreciate the precision of their playing. In particular I appreciated Avnya, both as a singer and as a guitarist: in this second role I was particularly struck by the solo towards the end of The Harbinger and the Millennial Vengeance that I found smooth and tasteful.
There are some aspects of the work that have not fully satisfied me, but also on this occasion we enter the sphere of personal tastes, and therefore not necessarily shared by others. I had the impression, especially in some passages, that the influences of other bands (in particular OPETH) were a little too evident, both in the construction of the riffs and in the flow of the song.
Even Bieber's singing didn't completely convince me: I appreciate the use of the growl in alternation with a clean voice as it increases the expressiveness of the songs and also underlines particularly intense moments (one of my favourite songs is His Cold Touch by WOLVERINE, where this approach is used masterfully), but in some places he seemed a little breathless.
Having said that, Pillars of Creation is a very solid work and I would not hesitate to recommend it to those who love bands like OPETH and ORPHANED LAND: surely it will find many fans among them.
Obsidian Tide - The Harbinger and the Millennial Vengeance (feat. Mike LePond) OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO