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Obscura - Cosmogenesis CD (album) cover

COSMOGENESIS

Obscura

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Cosmogenesis" is the 2nd full-length studio album by German technical/ progressive death metal act Obscura. The album was released in February 2009 by Relapse Records. There´s been an almost complete change in lineup since the debut album "Retribution (2006)", as only lead vocalist/ guitarist Steffen Kummerer remains from the lineup that recorded the debut. Instead Steffen Kummerer is joined here by former Necrophagist members, drummer Hannes Grossmann and guitarist Christian Muenzner. Former Pestilence bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling recorded the basslines on Cosmogenesis.

The music style on "Cosmogenesis" has taken a much more technical and at times progressive direction compared to the more regular death metal style of the debut album. Acts like Pestilence, Death, Necrophagist, Cynic, Augury and Morbid Angel come to mind at various times during the playing time. With musicians like the ones on this album it´s almost needless to say that the technical level of playing is very high. The 6-String Fretless Bass playing by Jeroen Paul Thesseling is very dominant at times and is without discussion the most progressive feature on the album. There are some semi-jazzy guitar soloing in the vein of the solos on Cynic´s albums too, which also gives "Cosmogenesis" a progressive edge. First and foremost though "Cosmogenesis" is a sophisticated death metal album with loads of technical playing and finesse and fans of the above mentioned acts should definitely check this one out. Tracks like "Anticosmic Overload", the instrumental "Orbital Elements" and especially the excellent "Universe Momentum" display how well playing the band are and also how well most of their material are composed.

If I have to voice one complaint, it would be that the album is a bit too nice and polished. I would have prefered a more raw production to give the music a bit more edge. It´s surely an aquired taste though and fans of the more polished technical death metal style will probably love this sound, so I won´t hold it against the album. It is after all a very professional and well sounding production.

"Cosmogenesis" is the kind of technical death metal album that fans of the genre waits for in great anticipation. High quality albums in this genre do not appear very often. Personally I enjoy the album with some reservations. I´d like to hear the band develop a more distinct sound and maybe lose a bit of the polish in the process too, but that´s just my personal wishes for the future. For now "Cosmogenesis" is a great technical death metal album and it deserves a 4 star rating.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#442846)
Posted Wednesday, May 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Three years after their modest retro-death debut, Steffen Kummerer returns with a completely revamped Obscura, with an entirely different line-up and with a distinctly more progressive musical direction.

The overall impression is still that of an oppressively intense death metal album, but the new musicians brought a new flavor to the sound, a richness and depth that was entirely absent from the debut. Most striking for me is the change of drum style from new recruit Hannes Grossmann, his playing is much more dynamic and creative, and he throws the death metal clichés of the debut almost entirely overboard. His contribution is essential to the sound. Also the guitar riffing has changed drastically, with less death/thrash-based riffing and instead with multiple bar spanning melodies that lend the music a complex progressive quality. The fretless bass of Jeroen Paul Thesseling stands out as well.

Quite an improvement over the faceless debut. A band to look out for! 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#446174)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Cosmogenesis' - Obscura (7/10)

Obscura are a band that has stood out from the crowded genre of technical death metal. Although their debut 'Retribution' was something of a cold opener that did little to distinguish them, their second record 'Cosmogenesis' was, and still is, one of the most well-regarded tech death albums of the new millennium. Although this very polished, blistering style of music has rarely piqued my interest, Obscura justifies their technical display by putting intelligence into the songwriting, and makes for one of the style's stronger experiences.

Although they are from Germany, Obscura takes most of their influence from American death metal bands, not least the legendary Death, as well as Cynic. Frontman Steffen Kummerer is evidently influenced by Chuck Schuldiner, many of the riffs and song structures reflect what Death was doing around the time of 'Individual Thought Patterns'. Obscura have polished that sound into something much more modern and complex however. 'Cosmogenesis' is defined by lots of dual guitar work, with one guitar playing a riff and the second guitar going at something equally as technical. From a compositional perspective, the music is very complex and dense. Despite relatively conventional song lengths, and even such 'pedestrian' elements as chorus structures, Obscura rarely lets up their onslaught of fast paced riffs, complicated drums and jazzy bass lines. Steffen's vocals typically evoke a fairly generic death growl, and while there are some Cynic-like vocorder clean singing to give a bit of variety, the vocal aspect of Obscura is definitely not their high point.

Obscura's 'Cosmogenesis' is the first album in a tentative four album concept piece, and seeing as this Obscura is an almost completely different lineup than the one heard on 'Retribution', this is the band's defacto debut. As good as 'Cosmogenesis' is however, the music still feels somewhat conventional for technical death metal. Particularly in regards to the cold, mechanical production, Obscura are not yet a full head above their competition at this point. Regardless, Obscura obviously have technical chops beyond most in metal, but what makes them stand out is their intelligence and complex composition. It's easy to play fast, but Obscura steps up to the plate and delivers a calibre of songwriting that justifies their technical abilities.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#584447)
Posted Wednesday, December 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars With an album cover of a slum version of the Death Star exploding, Obscura's Cosmogenesis lays on the sci-fi shtick thick with lots of tunes about planetary sized spheres orbiting and doing their thing. It also showcases a whole lot of technical capability, from the shredding guitars, crazed yet tight drumming, to the unusually up-front fretless bass playing. You won't be hearing these sort of vocals performing Aida or The Marriage of Figaro anytime soon, but the varied forms of growling from guttural to higher registered wails works with the music in general. Unlike a decent portion of modern tech death metal bands, I actually enjoy this release a great deal, and consider it one of the best of the new millennium.

What sets this apart from most of the competition is the balance between showmanship and composition. Too often these sort of bands are so busy trying to show us how fast they can perform some tired arpeggio scales over blastbeats that they forget to write a decent riff, let alone song. Cosmogenesis, on the other hand, tosses out all kinds of catchy riffs to blend in with the wankery and even reutilizes them within a tune to actually form songs with a memorable structure and sound foundation. As a result, many of these songs linger and resonate after listening, particularly the proggish, slow and creative instrumental "Orbital Elements", the ferocious "Centric Flow" that segues into a memorable majestic epilogue, and "Incarcerated" with its blatantly catchy opening riff. There's really not a bad song in the batch music-wise.

I know there are some metal fans who decry this album for its lack of "brutality" and prominent bass presence. To me, there are thousands of bands that are brutal with the bass buried under chugged low-end guitar riffs and double bass drums, so it was refreshing to hear something like this concerning sonic qualities. The clear production doesn't really favor any instrument, but the fact that the bass is featured alongside other instruments instead of being buried in the back can make one think they're listening to some sort of Primus on a death binge recording. It's not really the case though, yet it adds a whole new layer of melody to the loud yet progressive music.

Getting used to the vocals was my only issue, in fact only the guttural ones took time to deal with as the more mid-ranged growls were excellent in regards to how they fit within the maelstrom of frenzied instrumentation. There's also a few somewhat psychedelic patches of clean vocals sprinkled here and there to add a couple of more beacons of interest.

I actually have not listened to their followup release Omnivium yet, but after spending a healthy amount of time with this album, I'm looking forward to hearing what else the band has to offer (barring their first album that thanks to lukewarm reviews I avoided). The 'mysteries of the universe' subject matter seems to mesh well with this shiny form of tech death, and so far Cosmogenesis is almost like a blueprint as to why it works.

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Send comments to Prog Sothoth (BETA) | Report this review (#757050)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Obscura for sure is one of the most well known and loved progressive technical death metal bands in last years in the world.. I really like them, and special this second album named Cosmogenesis from 2009. My fav from them and probaly my fav prog technical death metal album after Individual thoughts patterns of Death. Now, from the beggining, some line up changes face previous work, their first opus, here apper ex Necrophagist drumer and guitar player, Christian Muenzner and excellent drumer Hannes Gossmann and aswell one of the most " dangerous" bass players from this field the former member of legendary Pestilence - Jeroen Paul Thesseling , with such line up is easy to come with an impressive work. Now, from the excellent cover art and booklet and all, to the lyrics and music this album really smokes, this is near masterpiece of the genre, at least I was knocked out of my socks when I've heread this album 2 years ago, and still impressed to the max. This kind of technical death metal with progressive elements added in the mix is right down on my alley kind of stuff, I love this album a lot, never get bored or tired. The musicianship is top notch, each member delivers some outstandinkg skills, special the bass player, the master of the masters. Cosmogenesis sounds to me if not overall, but in places with Death - Human or Individual thought patterns era, same attitude, even the voice seams like Chucks in some parts specially on Incarnated, what a killer piece. The drumer has some good chops here, energic and tight playing like only germans know, great twin guitars with some Cynic, Atheis, Death kind aproach with jazzy interplays in some parts, very solid solos and riffing, good intresting growls and now the bass player, man the bass lines are not on this earth, what Jeroen Paul Thesseling done here on Cosmogenesis is absolutly killer, just listen to opening track The Anticosmic Overload, Choir Of Spirits, Incarnated or on the instrumental track Orbital Elements, easely some of the best and most intresting and inventive bass chops I've heared since those of Steve DiGiorgio on Individual thoughts patterns, kinda same aproach, impressive playing. Very technical album with a lot to offer, some special guests, the legendary Ron Jarzombek from Watchtower and Blotted Sience appears on some pieces aswell a Cynic meber on one pieces. I love and have a soft spot for this album, to me the best from all 3 released so far by the band and an excellent example for other bands of how must sound and be played this kind of music. 4.5 stars and strongly recommended, high calibre album.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#930296)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2013 | Review Permalink

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