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Via Obscura - Gedanken CD (album) cover


Via Obscura


Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 14 ratings

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4 stars Ethereal and regal, heavy yet brooding, with Gothic edges

Via Obscura are a 3-person German band "inspired by the spirit of classical Gothic, European classical music and progressive rock leaning in to 70s (prog) rock sound." They started in 2004 and have just released their 2nd full length album "Gedanken" in late 2012, following 2009's "Traum." I'm so happy to have stumbled on this late in the year and found it to be completely engaging and interesting.

"Gedanken" is a truly gorgeous album with a rich and refined sound, though not overblown or garish. Because of the formal soprano female vocals they may instantly be compared to the likes of Nightwish, Epica, etc, but Via Obscura are quite different. This is not really a metal band though they may be compared to Gothic metal bands possibly. The sound is softer and slower, more meticulous and carefully considered. There are heavy distorted power chords backing soaring electric leads, all very melodic and powerful, but it never crosses into metal territory. In fact, the pacing of the music is almost closer to post-rock, remaining quite slow and consistent through the track, yielding a very dreamy, meditative state. This ethereal feeling is captured with beauty and great feeling by Anne-S's vocals. Bass, guitar, drums, and orchestrations are all tastefully and methodically executed by Alexander and Andre. The bass sound is warm while Thinius' solos (such as on "Moment") sound truly composed rather than random fiery shredding, they are beautiful, swelling, and emotional.

The result is a stirring heavy-symphonic sound deeply bathed in classical music and Gothic overtones. "Wind" is a perfect example of a typical Via Obscura delight, beginning quietly with piano and delicate guitar brush strokes, building slowly but surely to a much louder and powerful climax. A special mention must go to Siggi Bemm who recorded and co-produced the album with Via Obscura. Where rock and classical experiments can often go awry, Bemm presents this band tastefully and with exceptional sound clarity. Every iota of performance, some very subtle and quiet, are captured and clear. When the band transitions to the loud payoff sequences the listener is enveloped but the clarity is not lost. As mentioned initially I think the secret is that Via Obscura is not drowned in grandiosity and too many layers...there is a reserved quality to the arrangement that allows the performances to shine through. It is never "thin" and it can rock out, but it is never smothered to death in too much sound like some bands will do. A really fantastic experience.

While the influences and genre tendencies may vary, I suspect Via Obscura would appeal to fans of Sweden's Paatos quite well. Both bands put me in a similar place despite coming from different backgrounds. I recommend this band to anyone and feel it is one of 2012's stand-out releases. Please check it out on Bandcamp before finalizing your "best of 2012" ballots!

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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