Obiat - Delights
An Englishman, two Poles and a Hungarian walk into a recording studio. No, it's not the start of a bad joke, this is Obiat, a multicultural atmospheric, psychedelic doom band from in and around London. Having previously released two albums off their own back and built up a sizeable reputation and following, they have now hooked up with legendary stoner label Small Stone Records to release this, their third effort.
Has Small Stone's faith been well placed? Well, yes for the most part. In many ways this is an incredible album in terms of atmosphere and production. When they riff they riff hard, when they trip out they trip out to the outer reaches of the stratosphere and each individual performance is flawless...instruments interlock and weave round each other until the time is right to come crashing in with the next in a long line of crushingly heavy doom riffs. The vocals of Laz soar majestically over proceedings with a nod towards a young Chris Cornell but with a shamanistic flow that acts more as a fifth instrument than a traditional vocal. It's very easy to bandy the term prog around but in this case I may venture it as a comparison. Each track eschews the traditional verse/chorus/verse/chorus format in favour of a linear flow. With most bands that attempt this I tend to find it frustrating and confusing but Obiat manage to pull this off and with most songs seeming to top the 7 minute mark at least that is quite an achievement.
As impressively as these guys do pull off this kind of style I do have some reservations however. Whereas each track stands on its own as a mighty piece of work, the effect over the course of an album is a little harder to swallow. There does seem to be a singularity of pace through the album and it is on the rare occasions when the band do step it up a gear above a grooving doom crawl that it becomes more apparent that the band are happy to settle into their groove and have a natural pace they constantly fall back into. Over the seven lengthy tracks on this album it's hard not to find yourself craving more of an injection of pace. My other quibble is Obiat's tendency to fall back into other familiar themes throughout the album. It appears in virtually every track that the band will drift into mellow passages typified by clean delayed guitars and sparse drumming. Initially the effect works well and provides a fantastic counterpoint to the mightily heavy riffage they supply...after a while though it becomes a stock in trade that the band fall back on to create an atmosphere where I believe there is more inventiveness in their bones to break out of this cycle. The effect is very much like swearing...when someone swears constantly it loses effect but a well placed "fuck" from the right mouth can silence an entire room...initially Obiat silence the room, then the people start talking again!!!
This is very much a mood album. It isn't one for a sunny day in the car with the windows open or for getting ready for a night's drinking. Its hypnotic flow is better suited to a darkened room, a loud stereo and a bowl of weed. Smallstone seem to have gone out on a bit of a limb from their usual fare and I applaud them for this...and I applaud Obiat for making such a mature and powerful album...I think the next one will be the real killer.
Reviewed by Olivier Stygall