Ophidian I Solvet Saeclum
Oh, man… more technical death metal. Iceland’s Ophidian I mark their arrival within a scene chock full of technical wizardry and guitar wankery with their debut full-length, Solvet Saeclum. The music found on these nine tracks is precise, calculated and, unfortunately (as with most music of this style) a bit disjointed. The guys certainly know how to play the shit out of their instruments and the deep growls certainly fit, but there’s just no flow to carry us smoothly through.
“Mark of an Obsidian” starts the album off properly with some impressive bass and guitar interplay that has a bit of a Mediterranean vibe which is surprising considering where the band calls home. The gentle melodies last about a minute before a big scream and blasting drums arrive. Rapid fire tempo shifts and off-kilter time signatures dominate the track (and the album as a whole, really) while a heavy dose of melody is hurled into the whirlwind of acrobatic guitars and precision drumming. The guys are smart to keep things varied and avoid becoming a technical blur that doesn’t resonate. Instead, Ophidian I utilize their timing and melodic elements to not only keep you on your toes, but also fairly entertained despite the lack of a cohesive flow.
“Shedyet” opens things up a bit with airy riffs but tends to try and take the listener into multiple directions at the same time which ultimately leaves you a bit confused amongst the chaos. The title track, meaning “Will Dissolve” when translated from it’s native Latin, feels as though it certainly could dissolve your brain (and your willpower to stick around) with overtly technical bass lines, guitars and spastic drums. This song is well performed, but indicative of what plagues the album just too much going to and in too many different directions. If it were reigned in a bit, I’d probably find it more enjoyable. The rest of the album falls in line with the opening trio of tracks. There’s plenty of technical magic to tweak cerebral synapses for fans of that sort of stuff and a decent dose of melody throughout (“Ellipse” for example).
Solvet Saeclum isn’t a bad album. It just falls into the trappings of many albums like it, especially from younger bands. There’s a ton of promise from Ophidian I here, but they need a little time to mature as a group and, I suspect, we’ll see an improvement on future albums.