A Good Death

Death, you would have to say, is a core theme for many a metal band but forty or so years after the genre's murky birth in Birmingham it's getting hard to say something original. Given that challenge many an act turns to a concept or theme in times of need, think the astral projections and Tsarist Russia backdrop of Mastodon's Crack The Skye for instance, here Northampton newcomers Lay Siege have allied their sludgy metalcore to ancient Greek rites of passage. The title Obolus refers to the custom of placing a silver coin in the mouth of the deceased to ensure safe passage to the afterlife.

For the most part Obolus deals in loud and weighty riffs and chugging rhythms. It moves slowly but purposefully through six tracks of varying quality but unerring aggression. Opener Explorer sets the template of heaving drums and muscular guitar: a sound not too far removed from Machine Head at their mid-tempo best as singer Konrad Barrick reaches far into his larynx to roar his way through the songs. There's a textured Deftones-a-like riff on Wastelands and The Ferryman reaches for the breakdown early on and employs a quiet/loud dynamic for good measure. This effective toolkit is used repeatedly throughout the concise songs which can, unfortunately, make for a formulaic listen.

The record's strength is in the tightly focused blasts of anger - six songs packed into rarely more than three minutes each of pummelling metal-edged hardcore. Kudos for trying to frame their sound in a unique way is due; however, the sounds on Obolus are fairly mundane holding the band back from achieving something special. The music will no doubt continue to evolve and this debut gives Lay Siege some solid foundations from which to progress.