Album review: Ophidian I – Desolate

Icelandic metallers Ophidian I create tech-death magic on killer second album, Desolate.

Album review: Ophidian I – Desolate
Angela Davey

Iceland is full of hidden gems, and technical death metallers Ophidian I managed to slip under the radar nine years ago when releasing debut album Solvet Saeclum, which seems ridiculous considering their line-up comprises members of Helfró, Beneath, Une Misère and Atrum. Thankfully, they’ve returned with follow-up Desolate, a record that will doubtless earn them the following they deserve.

Ordinarily when a band plays fast it’s to the detriment of the music's quality, however that’s certainly not the case here. The complexity of the riffs is immediate, despite the breakneck speed they’re played at, complemented by percussion that’s so tight it sounds almost inhuman. The juxtaposition between the sophistication of the guitars and the primeval nature of the guttural, roaring vocals add a sense of balance to the entire opus, keeping it well rounded and genuinely interesting. There’s plenty of hidden grooves and melody to be found within, which creates an accessibility – tech death is a niche market, but Ophidian I ensure they’re playing to all of their strengths in order to maximise their appeal.

In terms of technical death metal, Desolate sits at the apex of releases for 2021, setting the bar impossibly high for the genre. Blink and you’ll miss it though; this is a band that prefer to keep things concise, cramming 10 tracks into under 40 minutes. It will take a few spins to really get to grips with the audial assault that’s taking place, too. There is absolutely no respite, Ophidian I start heavy and continue pummelling with everything they have right through to the closing bars, making for an insanely intense listen.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Fallujah, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Gorguts

Desolate is out now via Season Of Mist.

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