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OBSCURA

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Germany


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Obscura biography
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)

Obscura official website

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CosmogenesisCosmogenesis
Relapse 2009
Audio CD$9.11
$8.89 (used)
OmniviumOmnivium
Relapse 2011
Audio CD$7.89
$7.61 (used)
RetributionRetribution
Relapse 2010
Audio CD$8.60
$6.74 (used)
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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)

2.76 | 13 ratings
Retribution
2006
3.82 | 33 ratings
Cosmogenesis
2009
3.64 | 59 ratings
Omnivium
2011

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)

4.33 | 6 ratings
Illegimitation
2012

OBSCURA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Omnivium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.64 | 59 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.

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 Cosmogenesis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.82 | 33 ratings

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Cosmogenesis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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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 Omnivium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.64 | 59 ratings

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Omnivium
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Obscura play the kind of tech-deth jive that's got my back. The band's influences are all over the metal map, and these guys are quite capable of mashing them all up into a fine blob of clay and sculpting their own designs with each track. There's even a bit of variance between tunes, and of course the band have dexterous skills to spare.

One of the main things that Obscura brings to the table that gives them an identity of their own is the ever busy fretless bass playing. Omnivium still waves that flag, but this time around the bass isn't so obsessively featured as on their prior effort Cosmogenesis. A slight letdown maybe, but there's still plenty of bass chops within to counter the guitar melodies.

Another thing I dig about Obscura is that they care about song structure, which some of these other similar groups don't seem to comprehend while writing finger exercises and calling them 'songs'. I can actually remember chunks of this band's work after the album finishes. Granted, it's not the kind of stuff I'll be singing in the shower or serenading my kids before bedtime, but at least these songs entertain on more than just a "wow, that part was really wicked" level.

Opening with what seems like an homage to Metallica's "Battery", Obscura plays around with velocity and quiet passages, adorning some of these tracks with spacey clean vocals that assist in bringing out the sci-fi atmosphere. Otherwise, vocally you have your mid- ranged growled delivery and the more guttural monster vocals trading off lyrics, mixed well within a tight concise production. There are certainly some ripping fast sections, but the album as a whole isn't some 'blast-athon', with tunes like "Ocean Gateways" showcasing a lumbering gait. Some could be put off by the production values emphasizing clarity over heaviness, but with this band and its running science fiction themes the mixing is beneficial and a much better option than muddying up stuff for the sake of a brutal sound, especially since I'm down with the interplay between the guitars and the bass, which would be lost in a heavy mix.

Is this album an improvement over the great Cosmogenesis? Not really since I find that album a little catchier, but Omnivium holds its own and pushes a couple of new ideas forward, and their proggier influences are starting to open up a little more. I'm curious to see what direction they'll go next, but so far they're on the right path.

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 Cosmogenesis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.82 | 33 ratings

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Cosmogenesis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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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 Cosmogenesis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.82 | 33 ratings

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Cosmogenesis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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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 Omnivium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.64 | 59 ratings

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Omnivium
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars One album further in their career, one more leap ahead. Obscura have quickly evolved from a faceless Thrash metal band to a most entertaining modern Technical Thrash/Death unit. Under this brutal surface sit complex guitar patterns that have traded typical death/thrash-based riffing for multiple bars spanning melodic riffs that lend the music a complex progressive quality.

The songwriting is top notch and quite varied. The opening track may start as an old Metallica classic but it quickly evolves to a brutal Death Metal attack that gives way for a more relaxed Opethian prog metal passage with very enjoyable psychedelic clean vocals and just that bit of vocoder to make them sound even more out-worldly. A crazy speed-Death finale rounds it up. It's a scenario that reoccurs in different forms and variations on this album. New tricks and development appear regularly throughout, making it entertaining for most of its 59 minutes. I probably don't need to mention that I would enjoy it even more with 2 tracks less, for no better reason then having an attention span of 50 minutes.

It's not the most original or revealing bit of metal this year but simply very good album for fans of technical progressive thrash metal. It is certainly recommended above their other albums. An excellent release in its niche.

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 Omnivium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.64 | 59 ratings

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Omnivium
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Omnivium" is the 3rd full-length studio album by German technical/progressive death metal act Obscura. The album was released in March 2011 by Relapse Records. "Omnivium" is probably one of the most hyped technical death metal releases this year. Obscura made quite the name for themselves with "Cosmogenesis (2009)" and therefore the expectations among fans of the technical/progressive part of the death metal genre have been very high for this release.

Obscura started out as a pretty standard death metal act on their debut album "Retribution (2006)". "Cosmogenesis" saw the band taking a technical and at times progressive approach to songwriting and playing. "Cosmogenesis" was generally very well received by critics and fans alike. With "Omnivium" it seems the band have found the right balance between death metal power/brutality, technical playing and progressive ideas. Think a mix of Morbid Angel, Necrophagist, Death and Cynic and you're just about there.

The playing is technical to the extreme. Very fast precision drumming, challenging tempo- and time signature changes, fretless bass playing, lightning fast guitar riffing and melodic soloing are some of the elements on the album. The vocals are predominantly growling but there are "clean" vocoder vocal parts in the music too. The tracks are generally very complex in structure and fans of the genre should find themselves entertained for hours before cracking the code to some of these tracks.

All in all "Omnivium" is probably most technical/progressive metal fan's wet dream come true. I have a few gripes with the album though. Obscura are very skilled musicians and composers, but they are hardly innovative. There's nothing on this album that haven't been done before by some of the band's sources of inspiration. Obscura skillfully mix those influences and make their own music out of it, but they don't invent the wheel. I guess I have a slight issue with that and also the fact that the production is a bit too polished and the growls are a bit tame and lack bite. But my issues aside, "Omnivium" is still a very high quality technical/progressive death metal album and it shows a positive development from "Cosmogenesis". A 4 star rating is deserved.

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 Omnivium by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.64 | 59 ratings

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Omnivium
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars This is the third album from German metal band Obscura. I haven't heard their first two. From what I have read, these guys get compared to Necrophagist, a band I've never heard. The music here sounds influenced by 1990s Athiest and Death. There is a 6-string fretless bass and the occasional Cynic-like use of vocoder vocals. Some Opethian acoustic guitar once in a while too. In general I don't really care for the singing here. I thought death growls were unintentionally hilarious 15 years ago and I still think so.

The growls here are not of the 'cookie monster' variety, but rather 'Dr. Claw' sounding. Dr. Claw was the villain from the cartoon Inspector Gadget. Yes folks, apparently even with death growling there is variation. I personally only like growling when women do it but that's just me. Apart from the growls, there is also somewhere-between-yelling-and-screaming vocals as well as 'clean' vocals. This kind of music is referred to as 'technical death metal,' otherwise known as 'chick music.'

"Septuagint" opens the album. The beginning reminds me of '80s Metallica with the classical acoustic guitar intro followed by harmonized electric guitars. Nice clean singing in the middle and more harmonized guitars. Cliche metal soloing after 5 minutes. I love the soloing and melodic fretless bass in "Vortex Omnivium." Cool choir-like vocals near the end. "Ocean Gateways" is the only song where I actually sorta kinda enjoy the Dr. Claw death growls, which sometimes sound altered. I like the main Sabbath-like riff as well.

"Prismal Dawn" opens with more acoustic guitar. Nice lead guitar playing. Some melodic studio altered harmony vocals. Drummer goes into a steady 4/4 beat briefly. A little bit of spoken word. More cliche metal soloing at times. Some of the best moments on the album can be heard during the last 2 minutes of this song. "Celestial Spheres" has some great vocoderized vocals. More clean singing as well as harmonized and acoustic guitars. Features an excellent but too short bass solo.

"Velocity" is the most dissonant and challenging song. Almost sounds like Math Rock in places. It gets more melodic and accessible during the guitar solo. Some vocoder vocals. It almost sounds like a few piano notes at the beginning of "A Transcendental Serenade." I like the sound of the guitars in the middle. Holy blastbeats, Batman! Just love the melodic vocoder vocals at the end; just may be my favourite part of the whole album.

For a 2011 release this isn't bad music at all. Not extremely original or groundbreaking but fairly consistent and enjoyable. The cover artwork is really good. I would probably like this album twice as much if it were 100% instrumental. My final verdict would be a 3.5, but I can't bring myself to give it 4 stars. Fans of Tech/Extreme should enjoy this.

"I'LL GET YOU NEXT TIME GADGET...NEXT TIME!"

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 Cosmogenesis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.82 | 33 ratings

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Cosmogenesis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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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 Retribution by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.76 | 13 ratings

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Retribution
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars Obscura's debut stands far apart from their later albums, it's almost like a 2006 tribute to the early 90's extreme metal, with the exact same type of songwriting and sound of bands like Morbid Angel and Death. The addition of the Death, Morbid Angel and Suffocation bonus cover-tracks on the 2010 re-edition is no coincidence.

Fans of their later progressive material should approach the album with utmost care. Not only is it a pure death metal album, it also doesn't have the best of productions, it's very thick and muddy, suffocating all instruments and with very upfront kickdrums, which can get quite annoying during the frequent blastbeats. Also the songwriting leaves room for improvement. There's next to nothing in these songs that will make them distinguishable from the songs around them. That's a common feature with death metal and one of the reasons why I am not too fond of it. In short, it sounds like the album art.

Good: the album maintains a consistently oppressive and bludgeoning atmosphere. Bad: it lacks personality and fails to offer memorable material. I'd say this album is decent, but only catered for death metal aficionados that want a trip back to 1990.

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Thanks to bonnek for the artist addition.

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