Photo courtesy of 20 Buck Spin
Tanner Anderson spent years studying medieval composition for harp, and it shows on his latest piece, Obsequiae's majestic sophomore opus, Aria Of Vernal Tombs. Anderson is possessed of a rare talent, one that defies convention and surpases expections. Whether he's carving out glacial funeral dirges with Celestiial, combining forces with members of Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros, and Musk Ox for Hiraeth Eschar's experimental forest folk, or simply adding his voice to his friends in Panopticon and Shroud of Despondency's releases, the Minnesota native is constantly searching for musical fulfillment. He's built up a truly admirable body of work by doing so, but on the latest album from his resurrected medieval metal project, Obsequiae, it sounds like Anderson's finally hit that sweet spot.
Aria Of Vernal Tombs is a grand, sweeping album, owing as much to classic Bathory and Dissection as it does to Spanish harpist Vicente La Camero Marino, whose rippling strings add pagan grace to the songs' melodic black/death core. While at a glance the muddled genres involved might seem like overkill—death metal! black metal! heavy metal! medieval music!—the end result is gloriously cohesive. Each melodic flourish or rasped growl slots neatly into place, without awkwardness or fanfare, and the medieval music seems perfectly natural alongside the icy black metal riffs. This is far from Ren Faire metal; it's too serious, too refined. It channels the melodic bombast of Blut Aus Nord's Memoria Vetusta trilogy more than any hurdy-gurdy folk metal band that may spring to mind.
Anderson's well of genius springs eternal, and Aria Of Vernal Tombs is his finest hour to date. Order the album from 20 Buck Spin on May 26, and listen to the album it its entirety here:
'Aria Of Vernal Tombs' is out via 20 Buck Spin on May 26.
Kim Kelly is wishing she had enough fingers to play the harp; for now, she's on Twitter - @grimkim