Obsidian Arc

Vision quest
dB rating: 8/10

Release Date: March 10, 2017
Label: Eisenwald

When Agalloch was unceremoniously scattered across the proverbial winds last year, the shock was palatable and the awe unprecedented. America’s storied and most visible dark metal act was no more after five lauded full-lengths. Turns out John Haughm wasn’t accustomed to idle time, so he, Stephen Parker (Maestus) and Trevor Matthews (Uada) formed Pillorian. In many respects, the new group is similar to Agalloch—open, sylvan, despondent—but in most others, it’s entirely new.

While pundits will say Obsidian Arc is merely Haughm’s return to his original form in Pale Folklore, Pillorian is darker, edgier and far more dissonant. Songs like “A Stygian Pyre,” “Forged Iron Crucible” and “Archaen Divinity,” if placed away from Haughm, are categorically black metal, somewhere among the vitriolic, disruptive and the forlorn, frustrated kinds. While most bands of similar style—the ones who’ve ripped off Agalloch, for example—are shallow in their musical approach, Pillorian has a deep well from which to parlay. If Pillorian aren’t decidedly black metal, then they’re dark metal (no surprise), which is a different beast altogether.

For example, “By the Light of a Black Sun,” “Dark is the River of Man” and “The Vestige of Thorns” remind of the mid-’90s, when metal and folk music collided (again) into sparks of bands—like Summoning, Windir and Falkenbach—that were more motivated by cultural and historical aspects than simple Abrahamic Satanism. In the end, allegiances are what they are, but Pillorian have proven on Obsidian Arc that—creatively, musically and spiritually—they’re able to capture our hearts and minds with strums, bends and sustains of notes and chords we’re all familiar with.

— Chris Dick

This review taken from the April 2017 issue. Obsidian Arc is available on CD and vinyl from Eisenwald Records.

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