Having your debut album produced by the man who has commanded the desk for albums by the likes of Neurosis, Sleep, Mr. Bungle, Eyehategod, Melvins and was in (Men Of) Porn no less could be a burden of expectation that could be daunting for some bands. Not so for Germans OBELYSKKH (I have no idea either…) who come baring gifts of not one but two vinyl formats (black & baby-blue) for their modern take on nineties fodder of The Melvins, Sleep, Earth, Sons of Otis, early Electric Wizard plus all the usual touchstones of early Sabbath, Monster Magnet and even Pink Floyd.
Writing this whilst preparing to trek to London to watch the mighty Magnet play their classic album ‘Dopes To Infinity’, this release was the perfect foil for not over doing Dave Wyndorf and co. as it retains elements of the sonic weight of the doom and sludge scenes but manages to balance it with a more psychedelic space rock that has the ability to float you away on a cloud over those purple hills over there.
Okay so I have clearly been drinking the wrong (or right) kind of Kool Aid, but this is an album that sets out it’s stall from the opening track ‘Red Cruiser’ – a bruising in your face groove that is somehow still laid back and cool and that my friends, is OBELYSKKH’S mission in a nutshell.
Rather than over doing the psychedelic influences and dragging ‘Mount Nysa’ into a turgid festival of self indulgence, it’s easy to see that these five tracks were born out of a jam session, then refined and captured in their element in the studio by Anderson which is quite a feat for a band making it’s debut, but then again OBELYSKKH come hot on the back of a reputation of a fierce live presence that makes them one of Germany’s leading lights in the Doom and Sludge scene.
Having built this reputation over the last three years, this is a statement that seeks to cement their place and carve out their own niche that they describe as ‘Stoner-Doom-Noise-Psych-Fukking-Raw’. Whatever their lofty ambitions may be, this album is not the face scrapping blast of rawness that the press release accompanying it paints it as – this is actually a very well crafted affair that has as much subtlety as it does ferocity.
Through their combined efforts, the result doesn’t just come across as loud and awe-inspiring, but always allows for nuanced dynamics and even some introverted and melancholic passages. These are by no means mere interludes, but first hints at processes boiling underneath the surface, of an interest in Kraut- and Space-Rock as well as brutal Metal gradually manifesting itself in sound.
If I have any criticism it is that even at five tracks there are times, if you are not paying attention, the room is suddenly quiet and the record needs turning over as the loose jams have drifted by you, I don’t mean to suggested this in a disinterested way but as someone who ends up listening to a great deal of stoner style bands noodling off, it has to have moments of exceptional standout quality in order to keep the listener focused which Mount Nysa both does and doesn’t have.
This is a solid album bursting with potential and having a package with cool artwork on vinyl sells it to me every time, even without the heavy weight endorsement of Anderson to back it up. Granted the band need more time to become the triumphant genre conquerors their press release want them to be, but ‘Mount Nysa’ shows they have started out of the blocks well.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden