SCORCHED MOON – Obsidia (Album Review)

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T-minus three… two… one…

Whispers of spring fill the air as new life unfurls its leaves. The grey clouds of winter begin their hesitant retreat, and an endless breadth of blue sky is revealed once more. And in looking up at the vast expanse of the heavens, it’s impossible to ignore call of the celestial bodies far out of reach, beckoning mankind on its next great adventure. Of the many minds that have pondered what lays beyond our solar system, Scorched Moon is the latest band to let their imagination run wild and create a work of art for us earthbound souls to lose ourselves in.

More than a decade in the making, this Georgia-based quartet now present their debut album, “Obsidia.” The band was originally formed in 2012 by vocalist and guitarist Trapper Lanthier, and while its roots were first laid in Savannah, the current iteration of the band is based out of Atlanta. After a hiatus, relocation, and adjusted lineup, Scorched Moon finally found themselves on steady feet. And while Scorched Moon may only now be debuting their first full-length album, they have been a familiar sight in the southeastern metal scene over these last few years. Their accomplishments include sharing the stage with the likes of Aether Realm, Wilderun, and Oceans of Slumber, among many others.

“Obsidia” puts forward a familiar and ever-tempting proposition: progressive metal that carries the listener between faraway stars. This is a project that is driven by its songwriting, with a bombastic sci-fi adventure overlaid. There may be many other spacefarers in the genre, but Scorched Moon look to set themselves apart with decadent keyboard melodies, a rich variety of vocal techniques, and a dynamic approach to album-based storytelling. “Beyond the Singing Stars” is an aptly named track, and it is one replete with dreamlike instrumentals, every passage glowing with the warmth of a distant sun. This carefully constructed composition is a prolonged instrumental foray that spans more than five minutes of technically complex riffs, each new movement dancing in a seamless duet with the keyboard’s melody. Such inspired sonic architecture is the paragon of what Scorched Moon is capable of, and it sends this song out into the world with frenetic fury and passion. 

Closing track “Doubt” is a melancholic and spiritual counterpart to this exemplar spark. Where “Beyond the Singing Stars” is a ball of fiery hydrogen, “Doubt” carefully traverses the textures of a cold, empty vacuum. Never picking up speed beyond that of a winding ballad, the beautiful piano on display truly sets the atmosphere for a satisfying conclusion. It also features some of the essential vocal styles utilized throughout “Obsidia.” This includes Lanthier’s sole voice isolated at the forefront, lofty verses with Lanthier’s bandmates providing accompanying vocals, and choir-like harmonizations. Granduer across the album is both bombastic and delicate. But “Obsidia” is not all dreamlike wonder amongst a hymnal piano, for there are growls buried in the cosmic abyss, carried in rumbling screams that tear through tracks like “K-186f.”

K-186f” is a clear standout on “Obsidia.” Not only does it have a visually enticing music video to match its intensity, but it opens with a prog-driven bass solo that is striking enough to draw in even the most inattentive audience. As for its title, the actual Kepler-186f is an exoplanet that resides more than 580 light-years away from Earth, and it is also the first exoplanet ever discovered within the habitable zone of a central star. The thought of reaching a habitable planet is reflected in the jovial “Light of Day.” For all of the traditional heavy and extreme metal elements in “K-186f,” “Light of Day” trades that ominous dissonance for beams of sunlight, and the up-tempo passages reflect a variety of skills among these musicians. “Obsidia” tackles the whole spectrum of human emotion throughout its journey, from elation to terror, with this dichotomy on full display during the enrapturing “Triumph and Tragedy.”

There are numerous tonal shifts across this album, as though each track were a chapter in and of itself, another step in this cosmic journey. Sometimes this is welcome, such as “Light of Day” losing its brightness as it bleeds into the subtly grittier “Violence,” but other times sees this technique more jarring. Both “No Turning Back” and “Silence Painted Crimson” seem to haphazardly tumble into themselves rather than grow naturally from the preceding tracks. The upside to such variety across the album is that the listener gets a full display of the talents Scorched Moon has within its ranks. At the same time, it’s a touch overwhelming, as though they were fighting to fit ten years of vision and creation into the same fifty minutes of music.

That ambition proves to be a double-edged sword, because it’s also what makes the listener hungry for more. “No Turning Back” is delightfully progressive, and it is a great example of Lanthier’s technical skills on the guitar. The enticing embrace of “Violence” brings the hard work of keyboard player Matthew Boatwright front and center with some of the most brilliant songwriting on the record. There’s even a guest vocal feature from Vincent Jones of Aether Realm on “Silence Painted Crimson,” which adds yet another layer of skill to an already excellent set of talent.

A product of musical talent and brilliant storytelling, “Obsidia” is a strong debut from Scorched Moon. It lets the imagination run wild as delicate keys and roaring guitars guide the listener through space. There is emotion, tension, and a commitment to atmosphere that makes each track wholly immersive. Influences from progressive metal, power metal, and extreme metal intertwine for a cinematic experience. The only question is: where will Scorched Moon take us next? 

Houston, we have liftoff. Next stop: Kepler-186f.

Release Date: March 22th, 2023
Record Label: Independent
Genre: Progressive Metal 

Musicians:

  • Trapper Lanthier / Vocals, Guitar
  • Matthew Boatwright / Vocals, Keyboard
  • Michael Sanders / Bass
  • Jade Edge / Drums

“Obsidia” Track-list:

    1. Lost Adrift
    2. No Turning Back
    3. Light of Day
    4. Violence
    5. Triumph and Tragedy
    6. K-186f
    7. Beyond the Singing Stars
    8. Silence Painted Crimson
    9. Doubt

8.5 Great

Musical ambition, talented visionaries at the helm, and a galaxy-spanning journey make Scorched Moon's debut album "Obsidia" an irresistible proposition. Jump in your space ship, buckle up, and turn your eyes towards the stars: this is going to be one heck of a ride.

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 7.5
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