Some doom records sound quite low-key and almost serene as they creep under your skin and into your flesh, whereas others smash you over the head like a stone from Stonehenge toppling onto your cranium – huge, heavy and painful but, unlike having your head literally crushed, in a good way. German band Obelyskkh certainly fall into the latter category, opening their third album ‘Hymn to Pan’ with the gargantuan ten-minute title track and barely letting up on the heaviosity until the bitter end.
And it is a bitter end, as final track “Revelation: The Will to Nothingness” clocks in at just over twenty minutes, so this is a doom album bookended by two tracks that total over half-an-hour – sounds like a challenge! Luckily, Obelyskkh are more than up to it as every track twists and turns, ranging from the chugging doom and psychedelic passages of “Heavens Architrave” to the strangely rabble-rousing chants of “Horse” with very little chance of a breather.
Which, of course, is what all good doom metal should do by smothering you in atmosphere like a blanket of claustrophobia. Obelyskkh do this very well but they also throw in some melodies to give you the tiniest glimmer of hope that not (quite) everything needs to be wrapped in a shroud of despair; “The Ravens” is probably the best example of this, where Earth-shattering doom riffs are interwoven with jangly guitar parts that lift the song out of the ground for a few moments before lowering the coffin back in for the closing piano notes to dance on the grave for one last pirouette.
Big and lumbering, ‘Hymn to Pan’ is certainly an album to savour. One play won’t do it justice as it needs time to expand and breathe, giving you something new to chew on each time. It’s not an easy album to get on with, and a little bit of self-editing wouldn’t have gone amiss, especially on that final track, but once those crushing grooves get control they will force you into submission and take you on a musical journey that, for the most part, is very rewarding.