02 Feb 2023 - Thorsten
Sludge, Psychedelic Rock | Exile on Mainstream | Release date: 27 Jan 2023 | Favorite song: Afterlife
Everyone knows that old comparison often used to describe food “Oh that tastes so good, it takes me back to my childhood, when (Grand)ma used to make this for me!” Somehow in a twisted, nerdy way, the latest record by Obelyskkh called The Ultimate Grace of God does the same thing for me. And on top of that, it’s a hell of a brilliant, scratchy bastard of a record!
To clean up my messy mind: Back in the my pre-Metal childhood I used to listen to a lot of adventure cassette series and Obelyskkh have found a way to reproduce one of the background sounds from an especially dear one perfectly on ”Afterlife”: the noisey oscillating reverbs at the beginning sound just like the scratchy static noise that was used during a multi-tape-phase of that series to simulate the sounds made by anti-matter beings biting their way through anything that mattered in a certain universe devouring the latter and turning everything into nothingness. And the best thing about this long-track with nearly 15 minutes running? It grows and grows with so many twists and u-turns that it can rear its ugly and its beautiful end at the same time.
Another thing that might strike people is the slight similarity between the cover of The Ultimate Grace of God and The Bronx’ II even though musically there is much more of a parallel to Clutch and their sound (and no, there is no similarly constructed Clutch-cover artwork, checked it for I thought so at first, fleeting glance as well!). However, one must note that the Southern-Germans in Obelyskkh surely are sludgier than the Maryland-prog-meets-heavy-rock-institution.
Simply mind-blowing is the way the guys use their highly shifty rhythm section, capable of playing anything between very straightforward rock, just listen to the title track, to complicated, beat-jumping patterns like on ”Dog Headed God”. The songs channel a lot of doomy patterns, charge them with sludgey glue and garnish it all of with a tinge of Noise-Rock riffs. And is there a better place for such a sound than on Exile on Mainstream’s roster? I highly doubt it! I mean who else would put out a record with such a sound, with seven tracks and more than 70 minutes of running time? In a perfect world the answer would be: DOZENS of people with awesome taste! But unfortunately we all know about the world being an unfair place etc.
Getting back to the sound of The Ultimate Grace of God and its vocals: They fit the sound to the T, because for such a record one wants some rowdy but not shrieky vocals, rough but not tough guy. Therefore the clean vocals which sometimes seem bundled up with the distorted bass lines are a pretty good way of staying out of the “too metal”-box. They are more Stoner-related than anything else, and that is a pretty good thing. That the guys also like a certain goofiness when it comes to track titles and lyrics is certainly a bonus – just remember the palindrome in ”Dog Headed God” at the beginning and end. Or the relentless repetition of the line ”Look at my beautiful face” in the second half of the title track. Nevertheless, please do not mistake these somewhat silly tidbits as an indication of a band that doesn’t take their music seriously, because they surely do!
Last but not least we should also speak about the last song, ”Sat Nam [Vision]”, a 16 minute monster which shows clearly how adapt the guys are at writing perfectly timed, highly diverse and well-structured songs which never get boring and over such a long time, that is definitely really important. An important feature of keeping the flame alive is their usage of wonderfully interwoven psychedelic moments (often at the end of the long tracks) or mesmerizing melancholic acoustic passages; another interesting feature are the sounds in the background which keep the listener close and on edge, looking for more (just take in the vibraphone brushstrokes on the title track). You can take any of the five long tracks over eight minutes and find parts like that, and I must predict that you will spend quite some time listening to this record if you are a nerd for a warm, Stoner- and Noise-based release that is not giving away all its secrets at first spin. Or when you look for things that take you back to your childhood – choose this record, you’re likely to find something like that, because The Ultimate Grace of God is one tasty dish!