(During my recent stay in Wisconsin for Gilead Fest I had the pleasure of meeting both Tanner Anderson (Obsequiae, Celestial) and his friend Ben Smasher. I later discovered that Ben had written for his own blog about Tanner’s band Obsequiae (formerly Autumnal Winds), and I asked for and received permission to reprint it here (slightly edited), since we have inexcusably failed to review Obsequiae’s music before.)
written by Ben Smasher
Today I am feeling relieved. My trouble began when I met Tanner Anderson in the winter of 2007, and soon after was the first time I’d heard Autumnal Winds. Upon loving it immensely (see my review), there was always this distracting itch that I couldn’t scratch. I really wanted to be able to say the typical phrase, “Oh, this is just like ______ crossed with ______.” There was such a tangible familiarity, which I am usually able to quantify easily by describing it as “A thrashier ______” or something to that effect.
This trouble is even further fueled by Tanner’s and my mutual and unforgivably rampant obsession with melodic black and death metal bands of the 1990’s. Knowing that Tanner’s and my CD collections are largely interchangeable makes it all the more frustrating that I couldn’t easily reverse-engineer Tanner’s music — be it Autumnal Winds or Obsequiae — into a palatable formula that could be stated in a short sentence.
The satisfaction and relief that I have found to this conundrum can be reduced to this article, by giving the music of Obsequiae the reverence it humbly commands. With the recent release of Obsequiae’s debut album on the vinyl format, I have been seeing an increasing number of comparisons, ranging from Agalloch to Hammers of Misfortune to Pentangle to Bathory. Each time I see this I inadvertently stomp my foot down because these associations are lazy, and do all parties a disservice.
Tanner Anderson (aka Blondel de Nesle)
What I arrived upon instead of all these pushy accusations is that the familiarity I still feel when listening to Autumnal Winds or Obsequiae is that this has the potential to be every bit as good as Ophthalamia’s Via Dolorosa, Dawn’s Naer Solen Gar Niper for Evogher, or Varathron’s His Majesty at the Swamp. I am very excited to be able to watch Tanner work to achieve this level of mastery, though I humbly assure you that isn’t his aim. I think that it is much more satisfying and worthwhile to think of it this way: Trying to say what goes into the creation of Obsequiae’s music is an impossibility, but alternately I think it’s safe to say that Tanner shares a similar end result as the albums described above.
In my later years of appreciating metal, I have found a great deal of deserved snobbery in being fascinated by artists who have fully engendered the language by which they communicate their craft. All too many artists use only known languages to communicate what is in their head. Don’t get me wrong, this is enjoyable, and the majority of society ask only this of the art that they allow to enter their minds. I, however, am different than this. I want to experience new forefronts, new demographics, and new realities that I will remember for ages. I find that the more unfamiliar the language of art, the more continued enjoyment I can get out of it, because I respect that which challenges me, and this is also due to the mundanity of everything that doesn’t do this for me.
Without hesitation I hold Tanner and his music in this esteem, and Suspended in the Brume of Eos is a clear example of this (as is Venerari Sacra Mysteria!) The demeanor in which this language is offered to the listener is tacit. Unlike the approach of so much other art, music, and metal, you are not assumed to be an impish headbanging sloth. I greatly respect this quality about his craft.
The only credibility I seek in speaking about my friendship with Tanner is that I want to offer you my potentially greater understanding of Obsequiae and what goes into (and what led up to) what you are hearing when you play Suspended in the Brume of Eos or the brilliant self-titled demo. I personally possess the most comprehensive digital collection of Autumnal Winds, and pre-Autumnal Winds music. I know a lot about the origins of Obsequiae. The frustrations that Tanner has been through to see his music through to a tangible format are unbelievable.
I dare say that Tanner’s resolve to continue making his unique music is equal to Ginger Baker’s eagerness to be a total dick; it’s fucking unfathomable. His drive isn’t only to bring what is in his head to the world, but to inspire with a great deal of influence upon us the understanding that this somewhat forgotten style is still valid and relevant. It may have fallen by the wayside due to the technological advancements we have seen since the 90’s, and our reliance upon such devices to create music is at an all-time high. I was able gain a greater understanding of this recently when Tanner played me demos for the new Obsequiae album.
The new music is instantly recognizable as Obsequiae, of course. Without giving away too much, I dare say the new material is armed with more fury, it is more challenging and even more evocative. I absolutely can’t wait to hear what comes next from my friend’s mind. In anticipation of the new album, I invite you to order the LP version of Suspended… from 20 Buck Spin for a mere $14 and check out my interview here.
It sounds like folk metal with the guitars carrying the melody instead of keys or ethnic instruments.
There’s a definite medieval folk feel to it. It’s one band that I think the nebulous “dark metal” tag fits, and I’d just leave it at that. I’m definitely excited to hear what comes next.
Yes, if you hadn’t said it, I was going to say it’s more electrified, blackened medieval castle music than what I think most people would consider folk music. I guess I just said it anyway. 🙂
Yes! This is awesome.
Obsequaie is one of my favorite local bands and Tanner is one of the nicest and most soft spoken dudes I’ve ever met. It’s a shame that Gilead Fest had to happen during my finals. Would have been nice to see him again.
I had the same reaction as you — I really enjoyed meeting and talking with him. Would have been nice to meet you at long last, too. 🙂
My pleasure Ben. It was great to meet you, and thank you for letting me reprint this.
Hammers of Misfortune – Pentangle – Bathory
It might be a disservice, but seeing those 3 names in the same sentence is what drew me in.
hahaha there’s more than black metal out there. Judging by your lists, an unfamiliar language of art is a different guitar tone. You can write passionately, but c’mon man.
I think that my taste is ecclectic. My playlists are primarily metal because I have an intended audience. I welcome you to tell me if you think my pallette is varied enough to comment on metal by visiting my last.fm page here: http://www.last.fm/user/brainsmasher
Furthermore, my comment pertained to art in general, not just music. Fair warning: after perusing my page you will stick to your opinion and I will do the same and we will disagree…no big deal.