It’s been a few years since Obsidian Kingdom released their masterpiece “Mantiis.” That album was flat out amazing and for me, it’s one of the best albums to be released in the last 10 years or more! So Obsidian Kingdom were faced with a real uphill battle to follow up that album.
Needless to say, I had very lofty expectations for the follow up album. “A Year With No Summer” was unquestionably one of my most anticipated albums in quite a while. Maybe there was no chance that this album would be better than “Mantiis.” It’s certainly NOT “Mantiis part 2,” and it is very different from that album.
Unfortunately, “A Year With No Summer” is just not what I was hoping for. The problem is that while “Mantiis” takes the listener on a roller coaster ride and it’s very much a journey. “A Year With No Summer” is more like running in place. It seems like there’s a lot happening but you never feel like you’ve actually gone anywhere.
The title track and the song “Darkness” are prime examples. Both feel catchy and memorable but especially in the case of “Darkness,” it’s due to the fact that the song is incredibly repetitive. Rider G Omega’s “delayed” vocal delivery on “Darkness” really gets annoying after a few listens. I actually liked both of these songs more on the first listen and less after that.
“April 10” starts with some spoken word about breaking windows which just makes me roll my eyes. “Are you like a window?” The song itself sounds like Obsidian Kingdom channeling Ulver. That’s fine but since there’s only one Ulver, it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s a foray into noise rock as well which comes up again at the end of the song “The Kandinsky Group.” That song starts off okay but that latter part of the song isn’t needed or interesting.
On the plus side, the shortest track “The Polyarnik” is on par with anything on “Mantiis.” It has the dynamics and atmosphere that worked so well on the last album. And that perhaps is the main difference on “A Year With No Summer.” The album doesn’t have enough depth to it which “Mantiis” had a ton of.
The album closes with two solid songs in “Black Swan” and “Away / Absent.” “Black Swan” is my favorite track on the album. It doesn’t have anything unnecessary in it and has an excellent hook. “Away / Absent” has plenty of atmosphere and dynamics which would have been awesome on the rest of the album! Pet peeve. The song has a long silent gap between it and a short acoustic piece at the end. I hate that! That went out in the 90s! Why should I sit thru a few minutes of silence?
The good news about “A Year With No Summer” is that it finishes really well with the last 3 tracks being my favorites. The problem is the first part of the album just doesn’t work for me no matter how hard I try to make it so. It really bothers me to have to write this review since I’ve been a huge supporter of this incredible talented band!! I do love these guys and I respect them for trying something different.
Unfortunately, we’re just not on the same page as we were on “Mantiis.” Hopefully many people will enjoy this album because Obsidian Kingdom deserve it. It pains me to have to write this review. FUCK I HATE WRITING THIS! I guess I prefer the Summer season?
1. A Year With No Summer
2. 10th April
4. The Kandinsky Group
5. The Polyarnik
6. Black Swan
7. Away / Absent