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OBSCURA

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Germany


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Obscura biography
Founded in Landshut, Germany in 2002

OBSCURA are a German technical progressive death fusion band founded in 2002 by guitarist/vocalist Steffen Kummerer. The band caused a stir when they - out of nowhere - toured as support for SUFFOCATION on their European tour in 2006 and when they independently released their debut album 'Retribution' that same year.

In late 2007 - after several line-up changes - OBSCURA announced drummer Hannes Grossmann (ex-NECROPHAGIST) and fretless bass player Jeroen Paul Thesseling (ex-PESTILENCE) as new permanent members. In early 2008 the new line-up was completed with the addition of Christian Muenzner (ex-NECROPHAGIST) as permanent guitarist.

OBSCURA released their 2nd full-length studio album, 'Cosmogenesis' (feat. special guest appearances by Ron Jarzombek (WATCHTOWER, BLOTTED SCIENCE) and Tymon Kruidenier (CYNIC, EXIVIOUS) in early 2009 via Relapse Records. Re(de)fining their approach, OBSCURA continue to create their vision of the future of extreme metal - a symbiosis of death, thrash and black metal merged with progressive elements and technical as well as compositional demand.

OBSCURA released their 3rd full-length studio album 'Omnivium' through Relapse Records in early 2011.

( Biography edited and re-written by UMUR)

NOTE: Not to be confounded with the Italian band OBSCURA

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OBSCURA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

OBSCURA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.87 | 22 ratings
Retribution
2006
3.99 | 59 ratings
Cosmogenesis
2009
3.80 | 68 ratings
Omnivium
2011
3.75 | 33 ratings
Akrķasis
2016
3.79 | 15 ratings
Diluvium
2018
4.06 | 9 ratings
A Valediction
2021

OBSCURA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

OBSCURA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

OBSCURA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

OBSCURA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.38 | 8 ratings
Illegimitation
2012

OBSCURA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cosmogenesis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.99 | 59 ratings

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Cosmogenesis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by DangHeck

4 stars Very, very excited to be here. Honestly feel like a fraud for not getting into Obscura sooner, as they always felt like a band right up my alley, specific, of course, to Tech Death (and at this rate, essential Prog Metal). Hailing from Germany, Obscura released Cosmogenesis, their sophomore album, in 2009... I had no idea about this sort of thing in 2009 haha. And to think that it was, in its fullest glory, already very much a thing for about 20 years then. Grateful to be here, or really anywhere I've been across the musical landscape, now.

And with the start of our opener, "The Anticosmic Overload", all I could do was, audible to all in the room (my partner and her dog haha), say "Woah". Very interesting indeed. Big intensity and... unique?! This feels indeed like a cool, special mix of different Extreme Metals. And super groovy, too. In its simple melody, it's seemingly rhythmically complex. The drummer is killer--along with guitarist Christian Münzner, drummer Hannes Grossmann had previously been in Necrophagist(!)-- a steady force, and the bassist plays most melodically and interestingly, sorta a la Sean Malone [bassist Thesseling was, I'm learning, moreso Malone's contemporary than he was inspired by him]. And then this bridge is.... Wow... Did I mention I am stoked to be here today? haha.

"Choir of Spirits" is... intense. 'Nuff said? I will say that I like the variation in vocal styles. But for this track, speaking of vocals, more Cynic-isms?! Sounds like a tad bit of clean, vocoded vox like Paul Masvidal, and featuring a truly wicked, beautifully bizarro solo from ex-Cynic guitarist Tymon Kruidenier (not a name I recognize, frankly). Simply put, though, this track got better and better. "Universe Momentum" pauses throughout for a whole slew of modes: Opeth-esque acoustic section, then returning but with blitzkrieg-like quickness, only to morph some more in grace, virtuosity and melody... Good God! This is heaven! So much going on here. Seldom do Technical Death Metal bands have this much sonic diversity. The Proggiest.

Moving on along, we get more homage on "Incarnated", this time in rightful Shuldiner worship. And that is a damn compliment. These guys have so much more than chops and the best of influences. They have taken what is precedent and ran with it. Another incredible track. Everything I could have ever desired from Obscura is reality. Praise be! In turn, "Orbital Elements" is in stark juxtaposition, reaching out into a sweet yet cold feeling, its intro featuring acoustic arpeggios and clean guitars. To reiterate something I suggested earlier, their drummer is fantastic. An instrumental number, "Orbital Elements" also showcases insane, and crazy unusual soloing from our bassist, Jeroen Paul Thesseling, I would say most notably appearing on Pestilence's Fusion-meets-Tech-Death classic album Spheres (1993).

Speaking of spheres, "Desolate Spheres" brings us right on back into max brutality. Nice riffage overall and then some killer, eventually highly melodic soloing. Lovely stuff, much to our surprise from the start. Continuing in classic Tech Death mode, the battering rhythm on "Infinite Rotation" breaks way to some really satisfying riffs and faily unusual, angular melody lines. Pretty groovy, aided by the warm slink of the fretless bass. And then some rarer clean vocals on our mid-section bridge (they distort into a dreamy, unhuman warble as the track closes). Sort of Iron Maiden-type riffs going on here in the middle as well. Plenty going on here. Then we have a really sweet, alluring intro on the next, "Noospheres". Cynic-esque vocoder returns on this one, matched with beefy death growls. Such an interesting choice, though we know it to be not unfounded. Not gonna be for everyone, but I think it's a very cool effect, generally. The song itself, though, perhaps oddly enough, only does so much for me. They're great musicians, a fantastic team, but this is far from previous heights and highlight material.

In the finality of the album, we have our title track, "Cosmogenesis", a return to that brutality last heard on "Desolate Spheres". Some unusual, even claustrophobic rhythms on this'n... Like all throughout this track. It's very intense. Marvelous? Sure. But overwhelming a lot of the time. Finally we have "Centric Flow", our notably longest track at over 7 minutes. And it is starting off at 100%. It softens to a lighter groove only to return to max-heft. Woah... Nearing minute 3 is this wild guitar duet. Soaring, bright notes, more or less unusual to the genre, I feel. Hereafter, we have a return to acoustic guitar and clean outputs. A softening, if you will, warming us up for a slow build featuring smooth drumming and chunky, classic Metal riffage. Very cool, effective outro to the album. Fade to black.

All that said, as suggested above, I am so excited to hear more.

True Rate: 4.25/5.00

 A Valediction by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 9 ratings

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A Valediction
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "A Valediction" is the 6th full-length studio album by German death metal act Obscura. The album was released through Nuclear Blast in November 2021. It´s the successor to "Diluvium" from 2018. It would seem that Obscura is a revolving doors kind of band, as once again there´s been an almost complete change of the lineup between albums. In fact the only remaining member since the predecessor is lead vocalist/guitarist Steffen Kummerer. On the bright side "A Valediction" sees a return of two former members of Obscura in bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (previously part of the band from 2007-2011) and guitarist Christian Münzner (previously part of the band from 2008-2014). New drummer David Diepold completes the quartet lineup.

The material on "A Valediction" is unmistakably the sound of Obscura. Melodic and powerful technical/progressive death metal, performed by an incredibly skilled ensemble. Kummerer has chosen to perform most vocals on the album with his snarling aggressive vocal style, and only a very few times (like on "Devoured Usurper") does he perform his deeper growling vocals. There is one clean vocal part on the album on "When Stars Collide", which is performed by Björn "Speed" Strid (Soilwork, The Night Flight Orchestra). The effect laden robotic voices from the previous releases are almost gone from the music.

While the material on "A Valediction" are certainly still technically complex death metal, it´s actually the most melodic and accessible material released by Obscura up until then. It´s to a point where I´m slightly reminded of power metal (listen to parts of "Forsaken" and "Orbital Elements II" for proof of this), but it´s only touches and moments, and this is of course still primarely a death metal release. Thesseling´s fretless bass work provides the tracks with a fusion element, but I´d still say that element has also been pushed back to give space to more straight forward and accessible parts and ideas.

"A Valediction" is well produced, featuring a powerful, detailed, and professional sound production, which suits the material well. Upon conclusion it´s another high quality release by Obscura and although more accessible winds are blowing, "A Valediction" is still a highly technical and often progressive death metal release, loaded with intriguing songwriting ideas, high level performances, and as mentioned a well sounding production job. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 A Valediction by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.06 | 9 ratings

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A Valediction
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars With so many technical death metal artists in existence it's becoming ever more difficult to stay relevant in a room where so many are vying to find a way through the door and usurp your spot but some bands like Germany's OBSCURA only seem to find a new sense of relevancy with each and every album despite the room becoming more crowded by the second. Going on almost 20 years of existence, these techies led by the legendary guitarist / vocalist / composer Steffen Kummerer has suffered more than most at keeping together a band whose members don't want to stick around. Acting as more of a tech death university OBSCURA has seen a huge number of cast members rotate through the doors given that only six albums have seen the light of day.

After 2018's "Diluvium," the rotating band members all bailed in unison leaving Kummerer to start from scratch and take on the challenge to remain relevant as one of tech death's most celebrated units all the while training a new crew to keep the ship sailing. Well as luck would have it, former band members Christian Münzner (guitars) and Paul Thesseling (fretless bass) just happened to be free to rejoin the band which takes 3/4 of the lineup back to the classic days of "Cosmogenesis" and "Omnivium," the now deemed classic era of OBSCURA's many renditions. To fill in the shoes of powerhouse percussionist comes David Diepold who has been and still remains a vital member of the English band Cognizance.

Three years after "Diluvium," OBSCURA is back with an axe or two to grind on the sixth installment of their metallic legendary status in the form of A VALEDICTION which in both Latin and English means an act of bidding farewell. Now i do hope that this doesn't refer to the end of the band itself as few bands have so successfully conquered the nasty world of tech death so gracefully and sustained itself for so long. Having always been masters of sonic manipulation, freeform fusion and a knack for inserting a strong emotional connection to what should seemingly come off as nothing but frenzied noise, OBSCURA has entered the area of intermediacy where technical death metal complexities have aligned with the more melodic sensibilities of power metal, thrash metal and melo-death only without compromising any of the virtuosic attributes that make OBSCURA so ferociously appealing.

A VALEDICTION features eleven tracks and showcases a new direction that takes a side step from the progressive headiness of the past and takes on a somewhat more accessible approach of adding just enough melodic immediacy to the mix. The result is one that takes OBSCURA more into the world of Necrophagist, Gorod, Archspire and First Fragment which as signifies a plentitude of creative dynamic shifts. In the case of OBSCURA there has always been such diversity and A VALEDICTION is no exception to this rule. There are still remnants of the moody acoustic intros as heard on the opening track "Forsaken" as well as a nice balance between the slower passages and the thunderous raucousness of the blastbeat driven metallic fury however this time around the OBSCURA experience is less about progressive meanderings that take you on a wild and unforeseen journey and instead focus on the neoclassical leanings to un fold the song structures albeit with all the deathened brutality that has never ceased.

Given the virtuosic prowess of all the members featured on A VALEDICTION, the fertile crossroads of technical wizardry and melodic motifs somehow cross-pollinate into a perfect paradise of instrumental interplay. Without the more heady progressive drifting, OBSCURA takes on a more direct approach and in the process Kummerer's vocal style sounds to me more like the melo-death angstiness of Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho as the music sort of has that power metal meets tech death approach in a similar albeit more complex way. Despite this slight detour into the world of more melodic extreme metal, the musical rampages on like any OBSCURA fan could hope for. Slinky fretless bass grooves working in tandem with dueling guitar majesty and percussive bombast and a guarantee that Diepold certainly qualifies as one of metal's most promising newbies on the block.

It's always a stomach turner when one hears a near and dear talent like OBSCURA has drifted to the melodic side of the death metal equation since it has been the alienating surreal effects of atonalities and other unconventional methodologies that have made OBSCURA stand out in the first place but despite such concerns, it is a relief that Kummerer has triumphed once again in reinventing his baby by steering it only subtly in various directions without losing the underlying attributes that make OBSCURA what has always been. Very few can master these tightrope acts between unbridled experiments, beastly brutality and melodic masterful connectability in their music but it has been demonstrated on A VALEDICTION that OBSCURA is by no means in any danger of going the way of the dodo. In fact it seems like they only get better as time goes on.

 Diluvium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.79 | 15 ratings

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Diluvium
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Diluvium" is the 5th full-length studio album by German death metal act Obscura. The album was released through Relapse Records in July 2018. It´s the successor to "Akrķasis" from 2016 and features the exact same quartet lineup who recorded the predecessor.

The material on "Diluvium" continue the technical/progressive death metal style of "Akrķasis (2016)" and it´s the sound of Obscura as they´ve sounded on the last couple of releases. Busy and high energy technical death metal with progressive ideas and strong jazz/fusion leanings. High in the mix fretless bass playing, high speed precision drumming, and powerful sharp death/thrash riffs and blistering lead guitar work. "Diluvium" is a very melodic release, but on the other hand it´s also nicely aggressive and brutal when that is called for. The vocals are predominantly snarling and aggressive growling, but there are some robotic clean vocals featured throughout the album too.

While the musical foundation of the tracks are similar or in other words the tracks are coherent in style, there is still good variation between tracks and within tracks. Tempo changes/time signature changes, different riff styles, varied lead guitar work, and loads of different rhythm patterns. There is generally a very good balance between the elements which make up the tracks, and Obscura are also successful at striking a balance between challenging playing/adventurous song structures and catchy moments/accessibility. So while this is not easy music to listen to, it´s not technical for the sake of it. The technical playing is a means to an end, and the songwriting is in focus in terms of creating something that the listener can relate to and instantly enjoy.

"Diluvium" features a clear, detailed, and powerful sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. Every detail is audible in the mix, and that´s what busy layered music like this requires. So upon conclusion "Diluvium" is yet another high quality release from Obscura. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Diluvium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.79 | 15 ratings

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Diluvium
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars According to MMA, Obscura are a Technical Death Metal Band, while according to PA they are Tech/Extreme Prog Metal, and needless to say the truth probably falls somewhere between the two. I can understand why they are classified as Tech Death as that is definitely the majority of their sound, but they are also bringing in many other elements, although whether I would classify it as progressive is another matter altogether. I know that there are many people out there who feel that Obscura are one of the most important bands around, but I'm definitely not in that camp. I recognise that Linus Klausenitzer is an amazing bassist, and his use of a fretless in this style of music should be admired, but to my ears it just doesn't work. It has also been mixed in a way that is often above the twin guitars, and it all becomes quite disconcerting. The guitars are being rough, ferocious and incredibly staccato with lots of palm muting, and then there is a warm fat fretless which provides a totally different sound and feel. When the band slows down then of course it makes sense, but with their style of attack I would much prefer a fretted bass with a pick, to drive that hard edge.

Consequently I find myself becoming incredibly distracted, and instead of admiring what is undoubtedly a masterclass in musicianship, I find it grating. Of course, that means that I soon have issues with the rest of the album, with the touches, nuances and sojourns into different styles becoming something of distraction. I soon started wishing that the guys had just kept it simpler in some ways, got solidly behind, and put all of their energies into that. This isn't a poor album, far from it, but it is not for me.

 Diluvium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.79 | 15 ratings

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Diluvium
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars OBSCURA in a way carried on the interesting cross-pollinating potentials of Necrophagist after guitarist Christian Muenzner jumped ships and brought forth his virtuosic neoclassical shredding skills infused within the sensibilities in a death metal context. While Muenzner would move on to crank out some solo releases as well as hook up with various bands such as Spawn Of Possession, Paradox, Alkaloid and Eternity's End, OBSCURA retained a great deal of the his influence, that being the delicate balance of tech death metal bombast with the reverie of classic progressive rock. Throughout OBSCURA's history only founder Steffen Kummerer has remained the glue that keeps the band together but somehow through thick and thin he has proved to be quite the director of the ever rotating cast of stunningly brilliant musicians who cross paths with him. On OBSCURA's fifth studio album DILUVIUM, a new lineup is in play with Tom Gelschläger taking up guitar duties following Rafael Trujillo's departure after "Akrķasis."

Tech death metal in the 21st century is an increasingly complex beast with bands spiraling out in all kinds of directions and often fizzle out into unrecognizable territory and alienating the extreme metal fanbase before latching onto something tangible to grasp onto. OBSCURA has been the exception to this rule with each following album getting more focused and tighter than the last. While the band started out more as a simple brutal death metal band, their progressive tendencies ratcheted up to the point where "Akrķasis" seemed like the band could go full-on prog but on DILUVIUM, they dial back the prog aspects a bit and instead hammer out some extremely heavy and tight death metal delivery with more direct riffing, more recognizable song structures that remind a bit of Necrophagist with easier to follow compositions that only judicially exercise the meandering tendencies into more complex departures. DILIVIUM is the final album of the four album concept series following "Cosmogenesis" (2009), "Omnivium" (2011) and "Akrķasis" (2016).

As "Clandestine Stars" abruptly begins DILUVIUM, it's clear that OBSCURA aren't wimping out as they mature but rather place their wisdom in better musical constructs rather than less intensity however this album isn't afraid to experiment or continue bold and daring bouts into the progressive metal world in the least. The opening track announces the bombastic return of Germany's premier tech death metal band with a vengeance but soon begins the welcome contrasting sounds by incorporating some cool coded vocals that i personally haven't really heard since Cynic's debut "Focus" all the way back in 93, well at least not as well incorporated into a heavier metal sound and not just for one track but the coded vocal effects find their way scattered throughout the entire album. Unique for the band and the album for that matter is the track "Ethereal Skies" which utilizes some symphonic effects in the from of cello, violin and other string arrangements but don't worry - this track is still a brutal beast with the full death metal bravado, neoclassical guitar wankery with the string arrangements simply adding a bit of ambience and a few moments in the spotlight.

DILUVIUM simplifies the compositional constructs a bit and there are less meanderings into the arcane prog world which the previous two albums dived into, however simplicity is not in OBSCURA's vocabulary and new forms of complexity emerge with the riff changes, Sebastian Lanser's technical drumming craziness as well as Linus Klausenitzer's excellent fretless bass workouts. The return of V. Santura's excellent production skills guarantee a continuation of the beautifully mixed subtleties that marry the sensuality and aggressiveness fitting for a 21st century extreme metal album. All of this is great news for those who dislike long drawn out bouts of spaced out sonic surfing into the sonicsphere and eschew the heavyhead banging bombast that fans of this stuff are utterly addicted to. Being both a proghead as well as a metalhead, i do not prefer one or the other finding both styles compelling but something about DILUVIUM screams seasoned metal band reaching new heights of glory.

After five albums, OBSCURA shows no signs of slowing down or toning down the ferocious intensity. Instead the band is more focused by cranking out precisely cut progressively tinged tech death metal candy like there is a bottomless wellspring of creative energy to be tapped. As i see it, OBSCURA is playing the cards exactly right. There is always the tendency for a techie band to go for the jugular and continue the journey into the inaccessible for the average fan but on the other extreme the temptation to tame the music down so much for greater exposure can mean that it becomes tediously inane. OBSCURA on the other hand simply changed the equation around a bit by not jettisoning any of their signature traits but merely rationed them in more intelligent proportions. The result is perhaps the most balanced album of their career, one that walks the tightrope between the tech death and progressive metal that they have juggled throughout their career. While some may like this more or less than the previous albums, i simply find this to be yet another satisfying edition to a solid canon of intelligently designed sci-fi fueled tech metal that satisfies from beginning to end. Well done, guys.

 Cosmogenesis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.99 | 59 ratings

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Cosmogenesis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Brain knot music. The term just popped into my head as I was reading reviews of this album. I have listened to it a few times plus given randomly picked songs extra play time and although I am of the sound and sure opinion that I like it (enough to consider buying another album by Obscura), I am finding it very difficult to stride into a review.

As anyone will tell you, this album, as well as Obscura's style, is very technical metal. There seems to be something going on constantly and the band are rarely prepared to ease back and let something playout for a bit. I admit to having a certain fondness and admiration for technical bands like Decrepit Birth, Augury, and now Obscura too, but there is that challenge to make sense out of the music of each track and, for that matter, to learn to distinguish one song from another. All instruments are moving often at great speeds and sometimes in seemingly disparate directions except that you understand that the music is actually quite coherent and the instruments intelligently integrated.

What makes Obscura and this album stand apart from much of my previous technical metal listening experiences are a couple of things and that would be the use of slower tempos and even clean and beautiful parts with acoustic guitar or a kind of Steve Vai-like soloing style and the delightful use of bass guitar as an instrument that can hold its own and even stand out in the music. I have a great appreciation for metal and prog music that gives the bass a lead melody or frequently casts the spotlight on that wonderful instrument (which I don't play, in case you were wondering).

Because of the attention served to these aspects of the music writing, it becomes rather easy to begin to remember tracks for their standout parts rather than be doomed to be remembered as an intriguing and exciting tangle of rapid-fire, aggressive drumming, multi-single-note convoluted guitar riffs, and tangles of shredded solos with pinch harmonic wails that seem to drive through the music like hailstones in a thundershower during a baseball match. No, Obscura make it a little easier to say, "I really like the lead guitar melody here," or "Good use of clean guitar here to add something to the song," or "This acoustic passage is very pleasant and unexpected." Interestingly for me, shortly after acquiring "Cosmogenesis" I got "Focus" by Cynic and I could see the possible influences this older album had on Obscura's musical style. There is even a bit of vocoder vocals on "Cosmogenesis" as if in salute to "Focus".

The production is very clear and that is something I appreciate for such complex and often speedy music. My one criticism might be that the growls and sore-throat screams strike me as not being necessary throughout the whole album. It's not the first time that I was very impressed with the music but felt something more could have been done with the vocals in that the brutal style doesn't always seem to be the best approach.

And now it looks like I have managed to write just over a page-worth of words in review of this album. Technical. Highly-skilled. Creative. Effective. Challenging.

Delightful brain knot music!

 Akrķasis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.75 | 33 ratings

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Akrķasis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Akrķasis" is the 4th full-length studio album by German death metal act Obscura. The album was released through Relapse Records in February 2016. It´s been 5 years since the release of "Omnivium (2011)" and in addition to a lot of touring the time has also been spend with a lot of lineup changes. In fact the only remaining member since the last album is band founder/guitarist/lead vocalist Steffen Kummerer. Lineup changes are not unusual for Obscura though, who have had quite a few prolific musicians in their fold throughout the years in artists like bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Pestilence, Mayan), drummer Hannes Grossmann (Necrophagist, Blotted Science, Eternity's End), bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Sadus, Iced Earth), and guitarist Christian Münzner (Alkaloid, Eternity's End, Spawn of Possession, Necrophagist). The new guys in the lineup on "Akrķasis" are bassist Linus Klausenitzer (who has actually played with the band since 2011), drummer Sebastian Lanser, and guitarist Tom Geldschläger.

Stylistically the album opener "Sermon of the Seven Suns" continues the technical/progressive death metal style of "Omnivium (2011)", but already on the second track "The Monist" things change a bit. It´s a darker track with deeper growling vocals, and an interesting approach to composition, harmony, and structure. It´s also generally a bit more stripped down and less layered than "Sermon of the Seven Suns", and that contrast continues throughout the album. Some tracks are quite sophisticated and layered, while others feature a more stripped approach. That doesn´t mean the latter type tracks aren´t technically challenging and compositionally complex, but it´s obvious Obscura have deliberately gone for a more "bare" sound on those tracks.

In the other end of the spectrum you have a track like the closing 15:15 minutes long epic "Weltseele", which is probably the band´s most ambitious composition to date. It´s an incredibly intelligent and varied track, which proves beyond any doubt why Obscura are widely regarded as one of the most prolific contemporary technical/progressive death metal acts on the scene. Yes it´s sometimes a bit too polished and lacking grit and rawness, but on the other hand they deliver their brand of death metal with great conviction and incredible skill. Some of the things played here are designed to make your jaw drop and succeed well in doing that. Fast-paced precision drumming, technical and predominantly melodic oriented death/thrash guitar riffs and solos, and the high pitched snarling and deeper growling vocals in front. The occasional robotic vocoder voice part is also a part of the soundscape (Cynic style).

"Akrķasis" features a powerful, clear, and detailed sound production, which suits Obscura´s sound pretty well. The choice to remove some of the omnipresent layering of sounds on some of the tracks on the album, is really successful to my ears. It makes "Akrķasis" a more varied listen than "Omnivium (2011)". Not necessarily a better or more consistent release than the predecessor but definitely more varied and occassionally also a bit more raw.

Upon conclusion "Akrķasis" is yet another high quality technical/progressive death metal album by Obscura. Despite the many lineup changes and years between albums, Obscura have maintained their signature sound, but made just enough adjustments and little changes to said sound to not grow stale. The compositions are sophisticated, powerful, and intriguing, the sound production professional and detailed, and the musicianship is on a high level on all posts. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

 Akrķasis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.75 | 33 ratings

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Akrķasis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by arschiparschi

4 stars Obscura went through a considerable line-up change in 2015 when both drummer Hannes Grossmann and guitarist Christian Muenzner left the band to pursue other projects. Since they were also composers for Obscura's material, it was unclear in which direction exactly they would head - the only indication was Grossmann's comment, saying that Kummerer wanted to go back into the musical direction of 'Cosmogenesis' rather than follow on in that of 'Omnivium'. Now that the new album has arrived I must say that I am really delighted with it. Sebastian Lanser (Panzerballett) surely is a force to be reckoned with on the drums and new guitarist Tom Geldschläger seems a worthy replacement of Muenzner. The album starts off with "Sermon of the Seven Suns" in the classic sound, quite similar to their well-known "Anticosmis Overload". With a nice balance between more quiet parts, impressive solos and stomping blast beats, all layered with the bright sound of Klausenitzer's bass, it is a nice start to the album sure to please fans of the Obsura sound. "The Monist" is a slower and more heavy-sounding song. It fits nicely between the very melodic "Akroasis" and mixed "Sermon of the Seven Suns". "Akroasis", which was released as a music video before the album's release date, perfectly blends melodic blast beats and excellent guitar playing by Tom Geldschläger. A true highlight for fans of melodic, yet technical death metal. "Ten Sepiroth" starts off with a quiet guitar intro, which soon turns into a fast death metal sound. Intense drumming by Lanser and well crafted transition between the parts make it a song that keeps the listener interested until the end. In the second half, the bass comes to the fore once more and creates a balance between a fast guitar solo and pounding drums. "Ode to the Sun" has a more heavy death metal sound to it with less melodic and lower guitar riffs. Its mostly kept at low speed, which gives it a very heavy sound, layered with robotic, almost ethereal sounding vocals in the middle. "Fractal Dimension" resumes the fast blastbeat sound, though not for long. Intersparsed with multiple guitar solos and a quiet guitar part in the second half, makes it a well-crafted technical death metal song, which does not become boring despite its length. "Perpetual Infinity" starts off quietly and incorporates the auto-tuned vocals already used in "Ode to the Sun". Then, through various shifts in its speed, it returns to a fast-paced death metal sound. "Weltseele" (anima mundi) is an ususually long song but a nice surprise, I think. It develops from a quiet guitar part to a slightly slower death metal blast, marked by multiple time shifts, but then returns to a quiet interlude, which even incorporates strings. From there it slowly returns to a heavier, more speedy sound only to finish on a quiet note.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this new effort by the band. It surely lives up to the standard set by the first records, though at times it could use some more variation with regards to the guitar riffs. The musicianship is flawless, as is the sound. Lyricwise it still revolves around the same cosmic themes, already present in the previous albums. Surely an album that should please fans of the Obscura sound.

 Omnivium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.80 | 68 ratings

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Omnivium
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Omnivium is the latest Obscura album since now, issued at same as previous one on Relapse records in 2011. Well what we have here is another worthy album from their catalogue but some how is less intresting then previous album for my ears. Of course the musicianship is excellent , tight and has some great parts but overall fail to impress me as Cosmogenesis, mainly because Cosmogenesis was catchier in arrangements and the music was like instant glue to the listner, was very diverse in song writting and most important the bass was much much in front then here on Omnivium. The album is technical of course, in some parts is little less progressive and less diverse and more brutal in passges and the bass is no more so present as on Cosmogeneis, definetly the cherry on the cake. Now, the music is ok, the musicianship is ok and solid, the music suffers in intresting arrangements as on Cosmogenesis. With all that the highlights are the opening track Septuagint, Ocean Gateways, the rest are only ok. So, definetly a good release from this respected german band, but this is not an improvement over Cosmogenesis and is not their best album, at least for my ears. 3 stars maybe 3.5 stars for some parts but far from the genious of previous album. Again excellent cover art , booklet and whole package as on Cosmogenesis.
Thanks to bonnek for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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