The press release for Obelyskkh's third album Hymn To Pan claims that "Hymn To Pan sees the vocals traverse between cutting serenity and harsh shrieks, giving the music breathing space." Don't let this promise of breathing space fool you though, this is a seriously brutal record. The closest you're going to get to breathing space is before you press play and after it's finished.

Ten minute opening track 'Hymn To Pan' (no relation to Blood Ceremony's track of the same name) starts with a minute of the soothing sounds of mother nature and birds tweeting but then there's a huge riff. A really, really huge riff. If you don't like riffs, let alone really, really huge ones, then you won't like this record. It has lots of really, really huge riffs. Other reviews have mentioned the presence of 'squealing guitars' and the like, but mainly it's just really, really huge riffs.

With all this mention of riffs, you'd be forgiven for thinking you can guess exactly what the record is going to be like. However, what Obelyskkh have done particularly well is fuse together all genres off 'riff'. After the bird noises are killed off, 'Hymn To Pan' presents a relatively straightforward doom-metal riff, echoing the likes of Japan's Church Of Misery. It's sludgy, it's slow and it's offensively heavy. The vocals are distant, echoed growls and make for a rather unsettling listen. Unsettling in the best way possible. There's even some 'breathing space' around the halfway mark, but it's among the eeriest space you're likely to breathe, and soon gives way to another, you guessed it, really huge riff. You'll be hard pressed to find ten better minutes of heavy music this year.

Not until the final track do the band manage to match the opening track, but when they do, it's quite something. Here, the Church Of Misery influences are present again. This time down to the overdubbed news clips, similar to those regarding serial killers on the Japanese band's 2009 album, Houses Of The Unholy. This by no means that the intervening four tracks aren't up to scratch. They serve as the perfect accompaniments to the album's standout book-end tracks. The album's weakest moment is 'The Ravens'. The riff lacks that special something to really get it ingrained in your head. Musically, it's of a similar ilk to early Mastodon, but lacks the same raw aggression. The attempt at a psychedelic chorus, if you can really call it a chorus, on 'The Ravens' seems a little half-baked and suggests that psychedelia isn't perhaps their real strength.

'The Man Within' on the other hand, throws the psychedelia out of the window and goes in hard with a no-nonsense metal riff. Intersected with vocal clips about about a man they've 'never seen so broken up' and guttural vocal screams, it's a far more successful attempt at that brutal Mastodon sound. This is by no means to say that Obelyskkh just sound like an amalgamation of other bands. The injection of punk-ish rhythms and winding guitar melodies keep it intriguing throughout. In fact, as metal albums go, it's one of the more interesting releases of recent years. It channels stoner and straightforward metal in a way few others have managed.

'Heaven's Architrave' starts with a brooding guitar line similar to the title track, before a less brutal, more psychedelic riff kicks accompanied by swirling, almost biblical vocals. This track emphasises the band's less-is-more approach to metal. There's no unnecessarily fancy guitar work and the drums are measured and stay a million miles clear of stereotypical, frantic, generally horrible metal drumming, even during the more up-tempo sections.

'Horse' is the album's heaviest moment. After a strange opening refrain of 'warriors come out to play', the guitars kick in and it's nothing short of savagery. Simple, bludgeoning and just plan heavy, it's no nonsense doom. The vocals are indecipherable screams, but never overpower the music. Following this, the aforementioned final track 'Revelation: The Will To Nothingness' is a twenty minute onslaught that leaves you very much in need of breathing space. The epic duration of the song twists and turns through all the elements that have been present on the album up until this point, whilst finally incorporating something loosely reminiscent of of a 'squealing' guitar solo. One section even goes rather mellow, in a very Black Sabbath, 'Planet Caravan' type of way. This would suggest that Obelyskkh have a better grasp of psychedelia than they'd previously let on. It's a really very good song, if you've got the patience.

If you make it through the full sixty-seven minutes of Hymn To Pan, you'll need a lie down and your ears will certainly require a rest as they've essentially spend the last hour getting beaten up. But if being beaten up is always this much fun, then you'll want to make a habit of starting fights.