Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 9/25/2007
posted on 10/2007 By:
"Prelude" opens Tulus' newest oeuvre, their first in eight years, with a cello and strings. Riff-based mid paced black metal follows, paving the way for off-key female vocals and a disappointing go-nowhere song that is soon over. The title of this song is apt, as it presents the listener with the tedium and frustration that she will have to endure over the course of the next nine tracks.
This is a style of black metal not unfamiliar with the world these days. It's mid paced and aggressive, sometimes fast (the good "Stories Untold") but usually comfortably slower to expound on the artists' focus on writing riffs that stick and occasionally even groove. The songs stay in the 3-4 minute range. The production is rich and surprisingly almost warmish, letting the listener enjoy the thump and thwack of the bass. The mix hits all the right notes.
So why does Tulus feel the need to throw their hat in the ring, especially after having contributed something purportedly similar through Khold (who I haven't heard)? Frankly, I don't know. Biography Obscene is superfluous at best. Even after so many listens, I'd struggle to pick a favorite song because they all run together. Hell, I doubt I could even name a song if you played it to me blindfolded. For the most part, this album just oozes mediocrity through-and-through, mid paced riffs that scream bland and beg for a savior to fire up the music's hell-bent lukewarmness.
Tulus must have realized this. They must have said to themselves, "Hey, we should spice this stuff up with something different. Brass sections and saxophones are different. Let's go with it!" To the detriment of the continuity and credibility of their already weary album, they went with it. Hence, just past the halfway point of "Demise", a sax blares its way forward. I like the saxophone, I play the saxophone, and I'm no black metal purist, but this - as well as the brass section on the title track - was a poor choice. Why? Because it feels like that dialogue I made up above could very well be closer to the truth than I'd care to believe. The sax appears once, and it's an afterthought for the sake of absolutely nothing related to the music that is more than distracting - it's demeaning. I resent oddball qualities of records when I feel like they were calculated not for the music's sake but for mine. (I obviously want to avoid knowledge claims regarding the artists' intentions, to which I of course have no access. When I say things like "X is a superfluous addition to the song that is more of an afterthought for the sake of novelty" I'm making serious accusations, yes, but I'm really only saying that X seems to me like an afterthought for the sake of novelty because it doesn't work with the song. So I'm not picking Tulus' mind and actually judging poor intentions; I'm simply claiming that, given my reactions to this album, its problematic elements could easily stem from such poor intentions).
Still, despite the few ill-fated disparate additions to the music, Biography Obscene's biggest problem is its vanilla-flavored boredom. "Chamber's Disgust" - only one piano break - and "Allow No Light" - which manages to tie in the strings to good effect - aren't as scatter shot as most of the others but I wouldn't go recommending them, because they just aren't very interesting. That's why this album isn't even disappointing; it never promised anything above mediocrity in the first place.
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