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Oblomov - "Communitas (Deconstructing the Order)" (CD)

Oblomov - "Communitas (Deconstructing the Order)" CD cover image

"Communitas (Deconstructing the Order)" track listing:

1. The Carnival (0:59)
2. Masquerade (2:21)
3. Deconstructing the Order (5:01)
4. SEPARATION (0:49)
5. Ship of Fools on Its Way to Timelessness (4:16)
6. Wings of the Silver Drake (5:19)
7. LIMINALITY (0:37)
8. Romans 1580 (4:51)
10. Farewell to the Flesh (4:21)
11. Mysterium Tremendum (5:38)
12. 1206 (The Shadow of Burchan Chaldun) (1:55)
13. Jeke Mongol Ulus (5:31)
14. Silencio y Tranquilidad (4:20)
15. Silencio (0:04)

Reviewed by on February 24, 2010

"Carnival music and digeridoo’s will probably turn off a large portion of the black metal crowd, but the various eclectic elements of the album are executed with such skill it might just convert the skeptical into true believers if given a chance."

While plenty of metal bands add in little stylistic touches to take their music in more unique directions, the really experimental albums still tend to be few and far between. Oblomov’s second album “Communitas (Deconstructing the Order)” isn’t just an experimental foray into the unknown regions of the avant-garde, it’s absolutely off the wall and insane. Carnival music and digeridoo’s will probably turn off a large portion of the black metal crowd, but the various eclectic elements of the album are executed with such skill it might just convert the skeptical into true believers if given a chance.

Much like the other prominent artsy bands such as Maudlin of the Well or Unexpect, Oblomov routinely breaks all the established musical rules. Minute-long opener “The Carnival” gets things headed in a weird direction immediately, using carnival pipe organs with a background of screams, laughter, and mewling infants. It’s a common theme to straddle the line between over-the-top and serious throughout the album, and the theme starts off immediately.

Oblomov is billed as a black metal band, and there are heaping piles of black metal influence, but the guitars tend to exude more of a melodic death metal feel. The guitar work remains top-notch no matter where the music strays, whether it’s a shredding solo, melodic interlude, or a segment of full-force aggressive heaviness. There are several different vocal styles that don’t always stick precisely to black metal, with some heading off to truly bizarre territory. The title track has one of the most unexpected vocal switches, when the low end growls suddenly drop away to be replaced by a clean vocal harmonization that would fit right into a pop album or barber shop quartet. Weird twists of that same nature are par for the course on “Communitas,” as they happen on nearly every song.

The album is fifteen tracks long, but a big portion of those are interludes ranging from thirty seconds to two minutes. Each short intermission does something completely different than the last, which manages to be both refreshing and off-putting at the same time. They all sound great, but there isn’t any unifying theme between them, and they really have no connection to the metal tracks found before and after. The first interlude “Separation” blends effects and saxophone to sound like the backing soundtrack for an art house detective flick. The song brings to mind someone in black and white snapping their fingers to a beat while smoking a cigarette and getting ready to break into a song and dance number. “Liminality” has more of a spaced-out science fiction theme, while “1206 (The Shadow of Burchan Chaldun)” is somewhere between techno and a Gregorian chanting monk track.

“Wings of the Silver Drake” shifts modes into traditional folk metal, using flutes behind the guitars and throwing in an expertly placed sax attack towards the end of the track. “Romans 1580,” “Mysterium Tremendum,” and “Farewell to the Flesh” easily have the biggest black metal feel, mixing in the symphonic elements and even throwing in a few blast beats for good measure just to remind people where their roots lie.

There are only a few instances where the avant-garde elements don’t come together well. Oblomov totally loses it half-way through “Jeke Mongol Hulus,” adding in a string of purposefully bad vocals. They are probably trying to make some sort of grand statement about the nature of humanity, but the point is moot because it isn’t enjoyable to listen to. The final track “Silencio” also didn’t need to be on the album, as it’s only three seconds of someone whispering the song title.

With all the various sounds to be found throughout “Communitas (Deconstructing the Order)” it shouldn’t be surprising that the album tends to be a little uneven and isn’t always executed perfectly. The chaos does create unique and interesting melodies that are definitely worth hearing more often than it makes nonsense, however. The production is top notch, the mix of symphonic elements with black and death metal is easy to head bang along with, and the band knows when to switch gears smoothly. Oblomov’s brand of experimental metal isn’t for everyone, but fans of non-traditional metal should make a point of seeking it out.

Highs: Off-the-wall experimentation, great use of sax alongside guitars, and a generally amazing grasp of how symphonic black metal works.

Lows: Some of the experimentation gets annoying, and the interludes have virtually no connection to the rest of the music.

Bottom line: An insanely experimental album that hits everything from folk metal to pop music and all genres in-between.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)