Often music has the ability to transport the listener to other places, be them earthly or cosmic. I can feel like I’m in the amazon rainforest, or floating through the cosmos, or even in the pits of hell. This is what people often called transcendence, where the music transcends physical being and places your consciousness in another realm entirely. In the case of Aria of Vernal Tombs, the destination was medieval Europe. Through the use of period instruments and scales, Obsequiae creates an ethereal dream like soundscape, which makes me feel as though I’m at the crossroads of time, the in between space between years, traveling but never quite arriving at my destination. It’s a unique atmosphere, but one that I feel ultimately fails the assumed goal.
While yes the period instruments do help create a literal creation of medieval Europe, it’s never quite implemented as a fusion, but rather in interludes between songs. The album follows a distinct formula of song, interlude, song, interlude, etc. I don’t have any trouble with the format itself, however the way it is executed leaves a lot to be desired. Every song and interlude sounds essentially the same, with the occasional key difference. The interludes are more noodling improvisation than song, reinforcing the notion that you’re in limbo rather than in the physical world. It’s light, it’s airy, it’s calming, however quite frankly it’s boring. The same can really go the metal tracks, which have the same dreamy atmosphere, albeit more structured as songs rather than improvisation. However the notion that they all sound the same stands. There is very little if any variety in this album whatsoever, so if you’re no enamored with the first two tracks, you’re going to have a tough time with this record.
I feel like the atmosphere it does bring is very unique and wonderful in it’s own way. However Aria is simply a one trick pony, lacking in substance, and is ultimately relegated to nothing more than background study music. Mediocre study music at that.