It happens sometimes that you lose track of a band for several years and when they then return they have changed a little and you have to realize that it is a very, very good band that you should never have lost sight of them. The latest “victim” of this kind listens to the name of OBTEST, whose 1997 album “Tukstantmetis“ stands in my collection and I had not even heard of any of the three EPs and album after. And now comes “Is Kartos I Karta“ (“From Generation To Generation“) and it swipes me off my feet!
Four years after the last long player “Auka Seniems Dievams“ they now present incredible power, freshness and great melodies that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Basically OBTEST play some sort of Pagan Metal, but without the strongly ostensible Folky melodies that make a band like the ingenious Latvians of SKYFORGER stand out so much, and also without the gruff Death or Black Metal vocals. Instead singer Baalberith has a rough, but still clear voice, which together with the Lithuanian lyrics is one of the defining factors of the OBTEST sound.
“Paskutinë Akimirka“ (“The Last Blink“) is the song that had hit me completely unawares, with thundering double-bass and from the get-go great melodies, the already mentioned vocals and its very own charm and that is only the beginning of a tour de force that often operates in up-tempo, but still does not get boring, but has a sort of primordial force that you can hardly elude. “Devyniaragis“ (“The Nine-Horned“) contains a great lead guitar, while the title track is more rhythmic, a bit less furious, but with a more distinct and more epic chorus, plus these great leads, great, great, great! Further highlights are “Audronasa“ ("Stormbringer“) and „Pirmyn!“ ("Forward!“), but basically I can recommend any song off this album!
At times the melodies and powerful rhythms almost remind me a bit of Power Metal, but without losing the rough note of the “Heathen War Metal“ (as the Lithuanians call their style themselves). The production also is very good and gives the power of the compositions the right room, which makes “Is Kartos I Karta“ such an entertaining album.
OBTEST do not lose themselves in details or genre foreign instruments, but have created an album with character, power, expression and great melodies, which I had never heard like that before, and can sweep the floor with the majority of today’s Pagan scene. Pirmyn! (Online February 26, 2006)