Obscura shed the skin of mediocrity and step into a better place
After a re-release of their debut album, Relapse has recently unleashed German tech-death metallers, Obscura, third album, 'Omnivium’. For those who felt that 'Cosmogenesis' was intriguing, but a bit too technical and tried to follow along the lines of so many tech-death bands before them, such as Dying Fetus, Meshuggah, or even Between the Buried and Me, 'Omnivium' will lay those fears to rest. Instead, what Obscura have created here is a mix of beauty and brutality, much like as if someone merged Cannibal Corpse with Dream Theater. The result is a stunning and complex arrangement of music that is just as virtuous as the two previous albums, but also more diverse, ranging from the heavy, catchy, and chugging to the acoustic and eerie to the wild and technical. It is all here for fans to enjoy.
The longer tracks on the album, including the opening "Septuagint”, "Prismal Dawn”, and "Aevum" all tend to be the stand out picks for the album. Not only are they epic, but they jump around, such as either opening with a beautiful introduction before jumping into the heavier stuff with 'Septuagint”, or just being straight up technical metal that flips between insanely impressive to just downright practical and well thought out minus all the frills with "Prismal Dawn”, and even just suddenly straightforward, direct metal with "Aevum" with its repetitive, slow chugs and a lot of the technical work being thrown to the side for the sake of just a straight up solid death metal track. In fact, for the first three tracks, one might not even consider this death metal due to the higher pitched vocal snarl, which suddenly deepens out around "Ocean Gateways" and makes a distinct difference (they keyboards are also more prominent here, but in a spooky way rather than being as flamboyant as they were on the second album). It is like listening to Death and then switching the Bloodbath.
For those who seek the pure, technical and instrumental joy of the music and could ignore all the death metal parts, give "A Transcendental Serenade" a shot. Not only will it provoke some interesting thoughts simply from the title, the music is everything a prog/tech metal head would desire. Twisting, complex passages with high pitched guitar notes playing off each other back and forth amongst rather complex drumming that doesn't feel like it is coming from a machine, and the pace of it all is like riding one of the most engaging roller coasters in the world, and it certainly doesn't feel like a brief, cheap shot that is over in thirty seconds. Yes, there are a few short songs here and there, but those are where the band expends the most of their energy creating some of the most virtuous and technical of their work. These are the tracks that can get a bit overwhelming as opposed to the ones with the slower parts. As a whole Obscura's third album is a step back up to their debut days which was a shining gem for its time, and this certainly sweeps any considerations of a sophomore slump under the rug. For those who are just getting into the band, it is highly recommended for those who are fans of technical death metal that goes for the speed of Dying Fetus but has a cleaner and more melodic approach rather than the grit of grindcore.
(Relapse Records/Riot! Entertainment)