If you are a fan of Agalloch you might be acquainted with their last year’s split. From this broken home, two projects were born: Khôrada (ex Agalloch’s members Dan Anderson, Jason Walton and Aesop Dekker, plus Aaron Gregory from Giant Squid) and Pillorian (with the former Agalloch John Haughm, Stephen Parker of Maestus and Trevor Matthews of Uada). Right now, we will focus on Pillorian and their first work: “Obsidian Arc”.
Released this year, “Obsidian Arc” is Pillorian’s debut album and if we were talking about movies, i would say that this is a darker and heavier sequel of Agalloch.
“By the light of a black sun” is the track that opens this album and starts mainly with acoustic guitar chords, that soon will be muffled by melodic black metal riffs and Haughm distinct guttural voice. Although the first track will remind you a lot of Agalloch, with “Archaen Divinity” we will notice that the band is aiming for something a little bit different. Here, we are presented with a kind of “doom injected black metal” that might be due to Stephen Parker’s experience with doom metal in Maestus.
As we dwell through Obsidian Arc’s somber and desolate soundscapes, we notice that this full length is mainly focused on a more straight forward black metal, which is particularly notorious in “Forged Iron Crucible”. This is a really aggressive and dark track where one can even get that old school black metal vibe (with a cleaner production). This is also one of the tracks where Trevor Matthew’s flexible drumming style sticks out more, easily switching between fast and powerful blast beats and more slow and smooth rhythms. Along the way we will sometimes listen Haughm clean voice, nevertheless, in “Obsidian Arc” he is fiercer than ever and will focus mainly on growling and screaming.
As we get closer to the end of our journey, we will come across a bridge of drone riffs which makes the perfect transition to the last track (and the one that has more of Agalloch in it): “Dark is the River of Man”, maybe the more desolate song of this full-length. This is a mainly acoustic track and its lyrics focus on the flawed and destructive nature of the Human Being, a burden from which is impossible to escape.
Although the reception of this album was since the beginning stained by Agalloch’s busy break up, we should try to get over that and focus on its musical quality. Any comparisons between these two bands are inevitable, but after listening “Obsidian Arc” you’ll notice that we’re talking about something different here. Overall, this is a very coherent and solid work which reflects the experience of all its contributors.