Infant Island
Obsidian Wreath


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Kaplan STAFF
January 22nd, 2024 | 39 replies


Release Date: 01/12/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bound at the wrists, stung by the rope, agency stripped, absent of hope.

It took me a couple of listens to really wrap my head around Obsidian Wreath. My first impression was that of an album that a) did not really get going until about a third of the way into the record, b) was somewhat shallow in its composition, and c) featured vocals that I simply didn’t like. Fortunately for me (and all of you), I decided to give it another couple of chances before dismissing it into the heap of “good, but not great” albums. The truth is that—despite its flaws—Obsidian Wreath is a skillfully executed, mostly interesting, sometimes breathtaking work of art.

I’m honestly a bit new to the whole “blackened” concept and I don’t know that I have listened to enough black metal (or pseudo-black metal) to quibble about Infant Island’s use of it. From this writer’s perspective, however, Infant Island’s whole “scramz gets charred to black” approach is effective, if awkward. A majority of the album moves in a cyclic seesaw between scramz and Sunbather-esque black metal. “Another Cycle” is a perfectly acceptable (great actually) screamo tune that is followed by the bite-sized black metal morsel, “Fulfilled,” which—while it is also great—is very different thematically and musically than the song preceding it.

Even right around the twelve minute mark, when Obsidian Wreath starts fleshing itself out, this seesaw continues. While the tracks become fuller and more meaningful, the whole album tends to start feeling a bit circular musically. Starting with “Veil,” a despairing atmosphere becomes the common thread that weaves the rest of the album together. This atmosphere—employed through clean/acoustic guitar work, as well as strings and effects—is effective at creating a feeling of loneliness or hopelessness, but it is also used in a way that becomes a bit uninteresting.

Every song between “Veil” and “Kindling,” (with the exception of “Unrelenting”) use the atmospheric guitar-work and effects as a buildup into either scramz territory or black metal territory. It also doesn’t help that the chord progressions that are employed tend to sound very similar to each other, which didn’t help with keeping my interest up throughout the first run of the album.

All of that being said, I did state at the beginning of this review that this album was good—great even, and here’s why: Despite the choices made by Infant Island in the structure of the record, the songs—as individual songs—are almost all really fun to listen to. In fact, I would bet that if you were to try to listen to this album one song at a time over a period of a couple of days and not try to listen to the whole thing in one go, you would get much more of a kick out of it.

There are some very deeply rewarding moments on this album, from the desperately hollow soundscape and distant screaming of “Found Hand,” to the lovely guitar work that opens up “Amaranthine,” and the furiously aggressive “Unrelenting.” Every song feels like it has its own story to tell and needs to be appreciated in its own way.

The raw emotion bleeding through the album is also palpable. No matter how awkward the transitions or structure may be, the sheer intensity and rawness of it all is almost enough to make the listener forget about the minutiae of “what’s wrong” and simply take in the feeling of it all. “Veil,” “Amaranthine,” and “Clawing, Still” are all prevalent examples that immediately come to mind, but in truth there isn’t a second of the record where Infant Island hold back from unleashing a tidal wave of every negative (and sometimes almost positive) emotion I can think of.

All of it leads up to the mammoth “Vestygian” which finally does piece together all of the components of their songwriting into a masterful combination of atmosphere, aggression, beauty and emotion.

So yeah, the vocals aren’t my cup, the production is probably not for everyone, and it gets a bit repetitive—but give this one a couple of chances and you might find yourself drawn into Obsidian Wreath more than you initially thought you could. It’s a roller-coaster in more ways than one, but it is ultimately a rewarding ride.



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user ratings (122)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Manatea
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow been a while since i wrote something. A bit rusty so forgive me for that.



Good album tho

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh also this is my 50th review apparently go me

JayEnder
January 22nd 2024


20006 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good album good review good Manatee



/thread

artificialbox
January 22nd 2024


1730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice one! been waiting for a review of this and I think you did a great job.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


60555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Nice

Opening run was so intense and quickfire that it caught my ear, but the longer this goes on the more formulaic it becomes (and I really don't care for that blown-out mix at all). Decent album ig

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeaahhhh the mix was really not my jam but i think it suits the overall feel they’re going for.



Also thanks boiz! Nice to see all of you!

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


60555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

If by 'the overall feel' you mean cathartic stodge then yes lol defs

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Johnny you make me crack up sometimes ily

Pikazilla
January 22nd 2024


29819 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

mediocre songwriting with the occasional modicum of flair marred by one of the worst sound engineering jobs in the genre

Slex
January 22nd 2024


16618 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this band so much, cool review

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I need to do a deep dive this was my first experience

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


32047 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh nice a review for this. Good stuff Manatea. The album is wild, but also very punishing production wise, specially on headphones.

Hawks
January 22nd 2024


88338 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pika listened to exactly 27 seconds of this before coming to that assumption, turning it off and rating 2.5.

Groundking
January 22nd 2024


2291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Instrumentally this is pretty sick, but the vocals really suck. Don't mind the mix

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@dewi thanks mate!



And yes i acknowledge the mix is not great. Should have been more specific in the rev

Scoot
January 22nd 2024


22215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i like this a lot at times but the production just feels too reverbed

Wildcardbitchesss
January 23rd 2024


12187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is some good shit

Frost15
January 23rd 2024


3080 Comments


I heard Jeffrey Epstein liked this band a lot...
Should I check this album?

Hawks
January 23rd 2024


88338 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lmao

JayEnder
January 23rd 2024


20006 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lmao [2]



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