Obscura – Omnivium

By Murray Cuthbertson

German tech death metallers Obscura have violently torn open Pandora’s box with their latest cerebral musical offering Omnivium. The epic opening track “Septuagint” forges a bludgeoning tone that is maintained throughout the album; incorporating an intro reminiscent of In Flames-esque Lunar Strain acoustic folk instrumentals the song effortlessly transitions into a crushing death metal maelstrom that will impress fans of Arsis, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Gothenburg metal aficionados alike. They have indeed achieved a harmonious melodic and dissonant juxtaposition throughout all of the album’s songs, always finding a segway out of a heavy section into more progressive bridges that would be at home on any Vai, DiMeola, or Becker virtuoso composition. Further sweetening the pot, frontman Steffen Kummerer executes stellar hybrid metal vocals on each cut that can vastly vary from the industry standard bloodcurdling, guttural growls (e.g. “Ocean Gateways”) to surprisingly pristine classical, Gregorian chant cleans (e.g. “A Transcendental Serenade”).

The majority of the album is played at a breakneck pace but there are also chugging, sludgy moments that undoubtedly darken the palate and stir the blackened aural cauldron. The acrobatically aggressive finger plucked bass of Jeroen Paul Thesseling is a definite standout on the tracks as well, adding a punchy feel and augmenting the melody to perfectly pair with the already blistering Deutsche precision guitar and drum work. The technical and artistic competence of all Obscura members cannot be understated here insofar as they have been able to intertwine tech, death, black, progressive, and math metal elements without it coming off as mix and match riff collections as so many of their tech metal contemporaries often do. The track “Euclidean Elements” is yet another one of the many tour-de-force hallmarks set on this album, beginning with an insane onslaught of sweep arpeggios and charging directly into Malevolent Creation intensity with Chuck Schuldiner, Steve Digiorgio, and Gene Hoglan musical sensibilities. One believes that what makes Omnivium a successful album is that it is willing to take chances, whether it be playing a slower, more intricate melodic passage when the listener is expecting a battering ram riff, or indoctrinating your ears with further gravity blast bliss and shredding guitar when the average human’s arms and headbanging cranium would want to fly off.

(Relapse)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.