Infant Island, “Obsidian Wreath”
By Brad Cohan · January 26, 2024 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Cassette, T-Shirt/Shirt, Sweater/Hoodie, Other Apparel, Hat

If ever there was an album made to reflect the doomsday-like horror and sheer hopelessness that currently engulfs us, it’s Obsidian Wreath from Virginia-based screamo juggernauts Infant Island, on which the five-piece led by vocalist and lyricist Daniel Kost offer a searing musical statement.

Since their 2018 debut, the staunchly DIY outfit have been honing their sound, juggling blackened screamo, hardcore, shoegaze, noise, black metal, and ambient music, oftentimes within the same song. The commingling of styles was all over 2020’s full-length Beneath and Sepulcher EP, a double gut-punch that positioned them not only as potential heirs to Virginia screamo legends like City of Caterpillar and Pg. 99, but as forward-thinking disruptors in their own right; Deafheaven comparisons, in other words, were inevitable.

Obsidian Wreath reaffirms Infant Island’s ascendant path. Throughout the record’s 10 tracks, Kost, guitarists Alexander Rudenshiold and Winston Givler, bassist Kyle Guerra, and drummer Austin O’Rourke prove technically proficient mad scientists, expertly dealing in a controlled-type chaos that seems like it’s always teetering on the edge, threatening to derail at any moment. Somehow, it never does.

There’s also a hair-raising level of unpredictability in Infant Island’s brand of screamo. Take the blistering opening track “Another Cycle.” It kicks off with what sounds like a small army of immaculately strummed guitars before shifting into indecipherable shrieks and catchy, hard-charging riffs. The idyllic finger-picking midway through “Another Cycle” offers some semblance of peace, a momentary breather before leaping back into the pit.

That element of surprise runs amok throughout Obsidian Wreath. After the 90-second hyperspeed hardcore sludge-feast “Fulfilled,” the vibe gets downright trippy on “Found Hand,” a heady assault that conjures ’90s Japanese noise music. The shimmering, orchestral arrangements by O’Rourke—who plays piano, cello, accordion, and mandolin in addition to percussion—similarly break from screamo tradition, melding the brutal and beautiful to magnificent results. From the gently-picked acoustic guitars that commence “Amaranthine” and “With Shadow” to the icy blackgaze dreamscapes of “Kindling” (featuring guests Harper Boyhtari and Logan Gaval of Greet Death), Infant Island leaves you pondering: Where is this berserk time signature change or tremolo-picked salvo or this sludgy noise blast going to lead into next? What we’re left with is a sonically heavy maelstrom and a thrilling guessing game wrapped into one.

Read more in Punk →

Top Stories

Latest see all stories

On Bandcamp Radio see all

Listen to the latest episode of Bandcamp Radio. Listen now →