Ophidian I
Desolate


4.1
excellent

Review

by Papa Gnocchi STAFF
July 14th, 2021 | 118 replies


Release Date: 07/16/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Essential modern tech-death.

Among today’s more quintessential death metal (especially in regards to the more technical and progressive) acts there’s a number of trends that have emerged in recent years. Naturally, unwavering amounts of dissonance has run rampant through the genre’s niches, raging through both revivalism of death metal’s gloried roots, the worship of seminal acts like Demilich, Ulcerate and Gorguts and [in lesser forms] the new age zeniths that cram as much of everything into their being. Ophidian I’s particular sonic maelstrom however falls into the latter and largely defines the sounds a modern tech-death group should be making, without emulating the less distinct path of the acts mentioned above. Hailing from Iceland, Ophidian I have spent the better part of the last decade in a musical stasis of sorts, settling into a dormancy and allowing their Solvet Saeclum (released back in 2012) to fade from memory. Desolate marks the end of the group’s hibernation and a refreshing take on death metal’s tendency to blend to the nth degree.

While looking at the bigger picture I find it hard to articulate Desolate’s musical power based solely on the technical ability, intensity or even speed. For Ophidian I have crafted a record that is as uplifting in atmosphere as it is a proficient display of modern technical death metal. Desolate “feels” like a joy ride through space, careless loops and dips around planets and stars alike. The astral artwork of Eliran Kantor compliments the dizzying twists and turns of Desolate’s frenzied soundscapes that lurch from snapped blast beats, whirring tremolo, flurried arpeggio sweeps and cutting death growls. Album opener “Diamonds” is awash with endless guitar technique, equally matched by the thundering bass lines and careening blast beats—seemingly endless sprays of individual technical ability shoot across space’s void and combine as a single entity. In this manner, Ophidian I opened their 2021 accounts with a statement. The appropriately titled, “Spiral To Oblivion” is just as vast. In keeping with the barrage-like tendencies found in the opener it’s clear that this Icelandic group are unlikely to lift the foot off the pedal.

In circling back to the album’s larger atmospheres, the likes of “Sequential Descent” highlight the new record. Sure, the now typical displays of deep growls and blast beats continue their dominance throughout the album, but this track’s guitars invoke a positive vibe, centered around some almost-Dragonforce like leads; noodles unto oblivion. Even with this in mind it almost goes without saying that parts of Desolate’s larger soundscape may occasionally blend from time to time...if not for ‘moments’ that define individual tracks. Take the sensual flamenco-lite and the romping riffs of “Captive Infinity” for example or the burly melodic lines that ebb throughout “Enslaved In A Desolate Swarm” before easing into some of the album’s distinguishable groove-based ideas. “Blending” only occurs for those who don’t look into the finer picture. Where some listeners simply hear space, a vague simile for the reaching vastness presented by way of endless melodies and inhuman drumming, those who dive deeper into the airless abyss are presented with nuance, moments of individuality and the prospect that technical death metal isn’t in fact a stagnating genre.

“Jupiter” (probably the one adorning the album’s cover) spends a little less time adorning its framework with flurry and melodic embellishment. Instead, the track inserts itself alongside closer, “Wither On The Vine” as the heavier side of a one-two punch. Monstrous, lunging chord patterns paired with dizzying chugs. The beastly growls of John Olgeirsson simply act as a cherry on top of the mix.

Despite the natural saturation of a technical death metal record which favors the dichotomy of Ophidian I’s blast-solo-growl-solo compositional style, Desolate doesn’t wear out its welcome. At just under forty minutes, Desolate’s musical saturation becomes less of an issue when compared to the sprawling progressive jaunts death metal is occasionally known for. Ophidian I’s 2021 effort is a modern expression of virtuosity and heaviness that leans well into its melodicism. In a genre dominated recently by the dissonant climes mentioned at the top of this review, Ophidian I’s Desolate stands out; diamonds on a canvas of black—giant balls of gas that fills the void.




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user ratings (101)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2021


14573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Desolate releases on the 16th via Season Of Mist



You can stream the album's first three tracks via their Bandcamp here:



https://ophidiani.bandcamp.com/album/desolate



Something something go the Blues.

BitterJalapenoJr
July 14th 2021


14 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. Looking forward to hearing this in full on Friday.

Anthracks
July 14th 2021


6857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fantastic album. outstanding energy and memorable riffing throughout. great solos. can't ask for much more.



pretty cool that the pre-orders shipped with no vocals on accident. nice collector's piece for a burgeoning band.

Digging: I.N.C. - Razorback

bloc
July 14th 2021


66295 Comments


Sweet, looking forward to hearing this

Digging: Gaelle - Transient

Hawks
July 14th 2021


75356 Comments


Gotta jam.

Digging: Judas Priest - Stained Class

Slex
July 15th 2021


11857 Comments


This sounds awesome

Digging: Isaiah Rashad - The House Is Burning

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2021


14573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Definitely worth the spin!!

Beardog
July 15th 2021


4073 Comments


Hype I guess

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2021


14573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Very little at this stage.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2021


24955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still haven't got comfortable with tech death but this sounds like a tot... "the sensual flamenco-lite and the romping riffs of “Captive Infinity” OK I gotta hear this.



Great rev brother.

Digging: King Woman - Celestial Blues

Anthracks
July 15th 2021


6857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Such a strong knack for melody

Metaxu
July 15th 2021


28 Comments


not my style but these folks are definitely talented

JasonCarne
July 15th 2021


1176 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I grew off of this sound a long time ago, but this one slapped me in the face - it reminds me of how I felt listening to Necrophagist for the first time back in like 2004. There's some crazy technical ability on display here, but it actually has plenty of substance too and isn't just all flash, very listenable stuff for a genre that's usually exhausting to listen to for a full album.

mindleviticus
July 15th 2021


10261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is pretty good so far



EDIT: Reeeeally picks up after the first two tracks

necropig
July 15th 2021


6262 Comments


prefer the sound of this over newest first fragment track

Dizchu
July 15th 2021


343 Comments


Yeah I echo what everyone else has said. Usually hyper-technical death metal is awful but this is really good.

Even though I can only parse maybe 10% of the notes they're playing, it still manages to be catchy and fun to listen to.

mindleviticus
July 15th 2021


10261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It sounds like Dragonforce at times especially in the riffing and soloing

MotokoKusanagi
July 15th 2021


3944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really digging this, nice review

mindleviticus
July 15th 2021


10261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this is pretty excellent, I'm gonna be spinning this for a bit

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
July 15th 2021


14573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Glad I’m not alone with the Dragonforce comments.



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