The Primordial Woe of Black Table's 'Obelisk'
Stream the rising post-black metal quartet's jarringly intense new album inspired by mythology, suffering, and depression.
I've been looking forward to this new Black Table album for awhile now, as has everyone else—it's been four long years since the NJ-turned-NY quartet's last outing (the well-received Sentinel EP), but they've been slowly dribbling out bits of information on the release of their upcoming Billy Anderson-produced opus for what seems like ages. I don't blame them for stoking anticipation, though. When you're sitting on a record this ambitious, this intense, this good, you're allowed to tease us a little.
Black Table fits under the broad "post-black metal" canopy, in that they lean hard on doom, sludge, and post-metal, and balance their more raw, ferocious moments with a heavy focus on atmosphere. Obelisk is a more fully-formed evolution of the vision they first started to grasp on Sentinel, and is an accomplished work, in and of itself). Recorded at Backroom Studios, mixed by Billy Anderson, and mastered by Colin Marston, Obelisk elevates the atmospheric black metal tag, stripping away the semi-genre's assumed lightweight prettiness in favor of unapologetic aggression and a solid understanding of the cruciality of heaviness.
The technically dizzying drumming on "Obtuse," the hideously distorted vocals on "Shadow," the muted funereal grace of "Cromagnon," the unhinged vocal cracks on"Gargantua," the terrifying, animalistic farewell of "Closing"—each piece is constructed with care and intent. Not a single note is out of place, not a single riff wanders or gets lost, and not a single careless word is breathed.
Guitarist and vocalist Mers Sumida in particular is a fearsome talent, and unsurprisingly, given its sound, Obelisk's genesis comes from a dark place. As Sumida told Noisey, "The way I experience my depression is visceral and palpable. Locked in a timeless standoff, this will against will. Holding back a knife that's pointed inches from my face by a powerful force. The tip of the knife wavering back and forth, sometimes it draws blood. This situation feels ancient, ever repeating; I refer to it as a primordial woe. I don't write lyrics that that are too obvious. I like them to be layered, veiled so that my personal story is a hidden unimportant element. I want the reader or listener to be able to glean something better from it. My personal issues are uninteresting, but I hope that the structures I build from it are, especially in this new album.
I live in upstate New York, and in the rural area I am in wildlife is present on a daily basis. I left my house one afternoon, last spring, and a decent sized black bear ran out onto the road and disappeared into the woods on the other side. I had this involuntary physical reaction of panic and was incredibly overwhelmed. I probably would have vomited if I had eaten. It was a strange feeling and it stayed with me, and at that time I was struggling with the lyrics for this album. The bear led me to the Mohawk Indian fire creation legend and it was at that point I decided I would base the lyrics off mythologies. One thing all the mythologies share is suffering and it's in suffering that knowledge, wisdom, or paths are revealed in many texts, in many cultures. I'd like to think that in my suffering I could learn something, that maybe one day I'll have the ability to comprehend instead of only withstand."
Obelisk is out Oct 14 on Silent Pendulum Recs (US) and Moment of Collapse Recs (EU). Preorders are live now, and we're honored to be streaming Obelisk in its entirety below. Tell your friends you love them, and press play.
Kim Kelly is staying obtuse on Twitter.