REVIEWED: Obscura - 'A Valediction'
German progressive death metal figureheads Obscura have been revered for many years amongst fans of the more technical side of extreme metal. Their second album ‘Cosmogenesis’ in 2009 placed them quickly and firmly alongside bands such as Cynic, Atheist and Necrophagist as a go-to example of how to do the genre right.
Right from the melodic opening of ‘Forsaken’ there is a definite feeling of something epic and grandiose. The band slips into a flow as soon as the track kicks in that never lets up through the entirety of the record. Effortlessly slipping between the more frantic technical passages to the chuggingly direct, before making way to lush melodic parts throughout the entire record.
As expected, the musicianship throughout is incredible. The guitarwork sounds effortless yet mind blowing at the same time, the drum work is precise, intricate and written in such a way that it lifts the songs rather than trying to drown it in a swamp of double kick. The return of Jeroen Paul Thesseling on bass is an inspired move by the band, the long-standing tech death figurehead’s fretless work snakes around the songs with hypnotic effect. All this said though, the band have created a technical album that never suffocates the listener as some tech death does; songs are the king here and you can hear a focus on songwriting that seeps through every note.
The band are also not afraid to mess with conventions; ‘When Stars Collide’ totally takes you by surprise with a melodic vocal passage around halfway through and then just as you start to get comfy again, lays down an incredible traditional metal-styled solo passage.
In nearly 20 years of existence, Obscura have become a band totally comfortable with who they are yet also fully aware of where they can experiment. Band figurehead Steffen Kummerer deserves plaudits with bringing this lineup of new and past members alike to put forth such an incredibly strong incarnation of the band.
A brilliantly crafted album from start to finish that will reward long standing fans and newcomers to the genre alike.
'A Valediction' is out now via Nuclear Blast