Obsidian by Buried SleeperRelease date: April 14, 2018
Glasgow’s Buried Sleeper returned in April this year with their second album, Obsidian, after what felt like a goddamn eternity (it was actually six years, fact fans) since the release of their very promising debut Colosseum. That intervening time saw the doom rock quartet securing regular support slots, playing with the likes of Yob and Pallbearer, and building a solid reputation within the scene.
Developing ideas and sounds that they utilised well on Colosseum, Buried Sleeper thankfully haven’t changed drastically on Obsidian, retaining their absorbing mix of retro doom, sludge and prog for the four lengthy songs. Building upon a foundation laid by bassist Tommy Wigman, who is always doing something stimulating when laying down a central groove and riding it out, and drummer Dominic Hardy’s metronomic but interesting playing, Bryce Sutherland adds harmonious vocals, and alongside Harry Clapham, some tasty fuzzy riffs.
The centrepiece and highlight of Obsidian is undoubtedly the Tool-esque third track, ‘Pangaea’. This monumental thirteen minute composition can be broken down into two main sections, the first being ten minutes of soft guitars, Wigman’s rolling basslines and Sutherland’s layered vocal harmonies. Within this, there are brief heavier moments that offer a build in tension and the occasional tease of the climax that’s bound to happen. These elements do all blend and build ominously up to the second section when ‘Pangaea’ eventually explodes into a three minute riff-filled, dark apex. This powerful, climactic finale is the most impactful moment on the whole of Obsidian and has been a favourite of mine when seeing Buried Sleeper live.
Elsewhere on Obsidian, the combination of the two guitarists’ droney tones alongside Bryce Sutherland’s airy, melodious vocals and Wigman’s groove-laden bass on ‘Perimeter’ creates a floating, cosmic aura that seamlessly merges into the slowly chanted vocals and brooding, elongated riffs of the closing section. Closing track ‘Zero’ is the longest on Obsidian at nearly eighteen minutes, contains some marvellous, melancholic singing and guitar work, and again displays Buried Sleeper’s knack for mixing the mellow and the heavy elements of prog and doom into an epic piece of music.
If there’s one minor fault with Obsidian, it’s that throughout the near 50 minute runtime it lacks a few moments with serious bite and is maybe just a bit too nice; this isn’t an album that urges you into headbanging, but its grooves should definitely have you absorbed, tapping your foot and nodding along appreciatively. This is but a little quibble, as Obsidian is very much an engrossing and enjoyable listen that flows excellently, and it does still have interesting dynamics over the course of its heavy trip. A definite recommendation for fans of the likes of Mars Red Sky and the aforementioned Pallbearer.