Sky Shadow Obelisk – The Satyr’s Path Review

[Artwork by Lucas Korte]

If you’ve even remotely followed the catalog of Sky Shadow Obelisk, then you know that you can only truly expect a couple things with each new release: it’s going to be slow, and it’s going to be some degree of strange. From the funeral doom of the early EPs and absolutely nightmarish avant-garde of Beacon to the doom-death-black-grunge-prog-ambient hybrid of The Gift of Light, lone member Peter Scartabello uses each release as a way to express some new reflection of his twisted but extremely focused vision.

Release date: December 1, 2019. Label: Yuggoth Records.
The latest EP, The Satyr’s Path, again warps what came before. It remains (mostly) slow, strange, and focused, but this time eschews every bit of the warbling, disorienting sounds of Beacon and most of the more serene passages of The Gift of Light in favor of something more precise, aggressive, and altogether more on the death side of the doom/death balance. It’s still odd, tinged with avant-garde flourishes, and designed to be taken in as single listen, but more than anything released yet under the SSO banner, it also just rocks. The latter aspect is undoubtedly helped by a punchy and clear Tad Doyle production and by the hoarse, dry, and charismatic vocals of Scartabello, which are forward and commanding throughout.

There’s no direct point of reference for The Satyr’s Path, but there are some points of reference. The avant/doom/death hybrid will naturally make some think of Pan.Thy.Monium, but this has none of that project’s Swedeath or outright flamboyance. In truth, each part of the EP reminds just a little of something else. For example, the colossal doom riffs of opener “Serpent’s Egg” harken to Paradise Lost, but the shattering blasts and trem riffs shift the song into an altogether different mood. The title track, meanwhile, calls to mind a very efficient Opeth as much as it does something like Gorguts, but it ends with a repeated cycling of one eerie riff over some unconventional percussion, reclaiming that otherworldly vibe.

The real winner of the EP, however, is “Chain of Hephaestus.” It kicks off with an absolutely nutty mix of melodic speed picking, off-kilter time signatures, and jarring, staccato pings from out of the background. When it returns to the doom, it gets the aid of tubas and trombones for extra Into the Pandemonium impact, really hammering down a sense of scale and damnation. It’s then all the more effective when closing instrumental “Shadow of Spring” follows with a sense of renewal.

It’s all executed over a solid dynamic arc, and if there’s one complaint to be had about The Satyr’s Path, it’s that it isn’t a full length. Some of this begs for more; or rather, the listener might be left begging for more. Still, even with the impression that this could have been expanded, this is the most wholly satisfying SSO release to date, and a further exploration of this particular corner of his vision will serve Scartabello’s metal output very well.

Of course, the odds of this project repeating itself aren’t exactly high.

Posted by Zach Duvall

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; Obnoxious overuser of baseball metaphors.

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