Ophidian I – Solvet Saeclum

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Review by Jason Guest

A twisted, eastern-tinged, upper register bass line opens Iceland’s Ophidian I’s debut, Solvet Saeclum, a line upon which is layered guitar work that push the line further off the rails and into a furious blast of tech death. The floodgates are open and, as if a signal, Ingó’s coarse multi-layered vocals ushers in the band proper. Ophidian I is upon us. Símon and Unnar’s guitar work is outstanding. Dexterity and discernment are the order of the day as there’s no riff that these guys don’t imaginatively colour to produce wave after wave of rapid-fire technical brutality. As with the guitars, Tumi’s drum-work is remarkable, bringing together sheer power with refined lines and fills that move with the tracks, all the time keeping them firmly bolted to the concrete. And just as you’re being blown away by the band’s technical prowess and their concentrated battery of complex time signatures, erudite riffage, and all-out aggression, out of the shadows steps bassist, Þórður. This guy is just phenomenal. It’s no surprise that he matches the guitars note for note, but many a bassist can do that. Filling the low end with lines that flesh out the rhythm section and bring another dimension to the tracks, Þórður frequently steps out of his role in the rhythm section to provide some captivating playing that sees him outshine his band-mates. That’s not to say that his lines sound out of place or as if he’s purposely flaunting himself at the expense of his band or the music; far from it. This is a band that burns on all cylinders and does whatever they can to delve into darker and more brutal technical territories. Though each instrument gets its own place in the mix and every note, every beat, and every breath of this beast can be heard, the vocals tend to dominate and can sometimes overshadow the music. But such a minor flaw in the production is negligible given the level of musicianship and song-craft that Ophidian I have packed into every facet of this extraordinary debut.

8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Mark of an Obsidian
  2. Shedyet
  3. Solvet Saeclum
  4. Zone of Alienation
  5. Tectonic Collapse
  6. Ellipse
  7. Nadir
  8. Ethereal Abyss
  9. The Discontinuity of a Fundamental Element