Before I say another word: Painted Wives are awesome. Their music on Obsessed With The End inspires a dark, retro pleasure. It's intoxicating. And like any other intoxicant, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing; in this case, that happens about 3 tracks from the end. Not an overstayed welcome per se, but more of a I-get-it-already feeling. Still, if you haven't heard this music by now, you really should.
Especially since the response from Ihsahn is immediate and devastating. Now, it's not as though Arktis out-metals Obsessed With The End, and in fact it flirts with shedding the genre altogether, if the opening track is any indication, without fully capitulating to outright prog. But the achievements here cannot be overstated: this music is so original, so technical, yet so emotive (you guys, Celestial Violence is the most epic song of the year, no question), that it simply has to be the product of black magic. The album's misfires, charming as they are, would surely be susceptible to a wily competitor, but not today. Painted Wives fall to Ihsahn!
Tomorrow is the last Quarterfinal match. And it's a doozy: Anthrax vs Obscura!