Written by: EW on 27/03/2011 00:13:16

By a turn of events that resulted in their previous album "Cosmogenesis" earning healthy levels of plaudits and recognition, German technical death metallers Obscura now find themselves as a near scene-leading band with the release of new album "Omnivium", a work which is sure to see their profile rise even higher. Those well acquainted with said previous album will be aware of the band's fantastic technical skills and ability to write a catchy tune (see "Anticosmic Overload" for absolute confirmation of this); naturally these factors have hardly diminished in the intervening two years, but has the knack of writing consistently engaging death metal been thrust upon them?

Unlike two of their most obvious influences - Death and Morbid Angel - this trait is still not so fully discernible. First, however, the many plus points to "Omnivium". Though I s'pose in the same scene as the likes of Nile, Dying Fetus, Origin and Decrepit Birth, Obscura sound unlike any of them; their lack of overall brutal-ness, combined with greater Death-like song structures gives the band an air of confidence and utmost professionalism, greatly evidenced in "Euclidean Gateways". "Ocean Gateways" stands out as a particularly inspired reference to Morbid Angel through Steffen Kummerer's gruff vocals and the power of the song's slower speeds which have been harnessed to ring as heavy as any of the band's frequent top speed movements.

Jeroen Paul Thesseling remains a wizard on the 6-string fretless bass. Like Steve DiGiorgio through Death's faultless "Human" and "Individual Thought Patterns", the softer tones generated by his style offers Obscura the rare selling point of an audible bass with a thumping bottom end to further their distinction from the other acts of today. Among others, "Velocity" is the home to greater experimentation in vocal styles than was seen on "Cosmogenesis", with Kummerer breaking out some spacey sound effects befitting the band's lyrical preoccupation with matters of celestial magnitude, though largely sadly beyond me at least without the aid of a lyric sheet.

As mentioned however, Obscura have not yet fully exploited an ability to pen an album chock full of top-class top-level death metal as a few too many moments drift by without answering the listener's desire for more memorable and catchy riffs. Numerous completed listens with limited lasting points of memory lead me to declare they have yet to show the honed songwriting of a "Human" LP, but then frankly, how many other bands can match Death at their finest? For my money "Omnivium" features too few "Anticosmic Overloads", those tracks that remain as surefire inclusions on any live set, however Obscura do still have here an album on par with their mighty previous effort and one that cements their reputation as a thinking man's death metal band - one to be approached for a most serious mental examination.


Download: Ocean Gateways, A Transcendental Serenade, Prismal Dawn
For The Fans Of: Death, Decrepit Birth, Morbid Angel
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 04.04.2011
Relapse Records

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