Melodic Black Metal
Taiwanese black metal band Anthelion‘s debut Bloodshed Rebefallen was one album that I will never forget, getting me into the whole Oriental black metal craze along with ChthoniC. Yet in 2010, their follow up EP Manjusaka turned out rather disappointing, sounding as though the band had lost that flame and inspiration that made Bloodshed Rebefallen such a captivating release. Four years on, the band finally releases their sophomore full length, Obsidian Plume.
Keeping that symphonic/orchestral touch that made them such a charming band to me on my first encounter, Scythe Returns at Dusk is an instrumental opening track, giving a rather dramatic touch before presenting to listeners their style of melodic black metal. With the climax built up on Scythe Returns at Dusk, one would almost expect all hell to quickly break loose, yet as title track Obsidian Plume comes on, things turn out to be quite an anti-climax, with the band instead presenting a rather melancholic, slow-paced riff, losing the momentum and anticipation that has been built up so far. As the band quickly goes into familiar territory once again with speedy riffs and that familiar shrieks of Code, one wonders why they did not simply have things go this way right from the start. Throughout the album, guitarist Zeist displays his guitar wizardry, littering the album with nice melodic leads, backed by the classically-influenced keys of Code. That dramatic touch of the band is further reinforced by the haunting female backing vocals as well, often sending chills down the listener’s back.
I remember that on Bloodshed Rebefallen, the instrumental, piano-driven, classically-influenced tracks were the ones that made me really fall in love with the band, and it is nice to hear that on Obsidian Plume, the band has not toned down this aspect of theirs, with instrumental track Morrigan’s Decrescence being one of my favourite tracks, despite not being a black metal track. It is also this classical influence that reminds me of bands like Japan’s Tyrant, with the melodic touch being rather reminiscent of Cradle of Filth at times as well.
Production on Obsidian Plume was another rather disappointing factor, and while the desire to retain a raw touch on the sound is understandable, the sound on the album ended up sounding quite compressed, and sounds like a step back from that on Bloodshed Rebefallen.
Coming from Taiwan, the same lands as the now-famous ChthoniC, comparisons will undoubtedly be drawn between the two, yet Anthelion and ChthoniC are obviously two rather vastly different animals, with Anthelion‘s style leaning closer towards black metal as we know it. For those preferring a more modern-sounding Oriental extremity, ChthoniC will perhaps be a better choice. Furthermore, while individual tracks on Obsidian Plume can get pretty brilliant, the way the band has put together the tracks have resulted in an album that can get rather inconsistent and confusing at times.