Obitus has made it pretty clear what you can expect from their latest album, Slaves of the Vast Machine: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” Capturing an outlook as dour as that and putting it to music may seem like a tall order, but that’s just what Obitus achieves on this 2017 release from Hypnotic Dirge Records.
You’ll find no beauty here. There will be no aching sense of longing, as commonly found in black metal of the atmospheric variety, nor the despairing yet cathartic release of depressive black metal. Slaves of the Vast Machine is a mighty and terrible engine fueled by one thing: hate. This misanthropic journey boils and writhes within the confines of a single track, leaving listeners strapped down as if in an insane asylum, with no escape and nothing to do but submit to the emotional flogging delivered by this Swedish black metal duo.
As for the music itself, a part of me worried that the album’s most memorable parts had already been revealed from the two sample clips Obitus had released prior, but I’m pleased to report this is not the case. When the onslaught begins, you won’t have time to even take a breath before you’re suffocating beneath roiling waves of blast beats, riffs, and raw aggression. It’s not all sound and fury, though, as there’s smart songwriting aplenty to keep you in rapt attention, as a single-track album should. Thematic rhythmic patterns are repeated throughout using different dynamics, showing enough variation to always surprise you. Of special note are the guitars, which play off each other in spectacular ways, diverging from alternating tremolo and picked patterns before careening back into each other to create maximum discordance.
Listeners wary of whether a single 45-minute track will maintain their interest or not should take heart – this is one vast machine you’ll willfully enslave yourself to.