Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: Obscura - Omnivium

Band: Obscura
Album: Omnivium
Year: 2011
Genre: Technical/Progressive Death Metal

I had heard only a handful of songs by Obscura before deciding to buy Omnivium. I was pulled in by how much the band sounded like some of my favorite American death metal bands of the early 90s, specifically Cynic and Death. In Omnivium they kept only elements of their previous sound and its safe to say I did not get what I was expecting.

The bass while still pretty audible plays much less of a role than on say Cosmogenesis. This kind of bummed me out because it was in my eyes a pivotal part of Obscura’s sound that I really liked. It’s still there though and you still can here it much more than usual by comparison to other bands. Listen to Septuagint and you can pick it out pretty easily.

Septuagint is actually a really cool song to start the album with too. There is a little acoustic intro then the song rockets away for the next 7 minutes. There are tons of harmonized leads here which draw comparison to other bands like Nueraxis and Quo Vadis who play a technical form of melodic death metal.

The drumming is really great but it’s the tone of the snare that seems to really mar the album for me. It sounds like Hannes Grossmann is hitting a piece of plastic. To me it sounds so weak and in no way at all organic and hardly like a drum at all. This is really a shame because Hannes’ drumming on Omnivium is great. He has hit that mark between being technical but not so overly technical that his drumming seems to be going everywhere and nowhere at once. Like say the drumming on the Arsis album We Are The Nightmare, jeeze.

There are still a lot of riffs on this album and my favorites have to be on Ocean Gateways, Septuagint, and Celestial Spheres. Most of Ocean Gateways is a slower meandering affair with little flares of speed at certain times while Septuagint is all about speed and Celestial Spheres finds a medium between the two. And the instrumental A Transcendental Serenade is a really fun listen where the band sort of lets loose.

Vocally there are a few different variations here. There is a deep death growl, a higher pitch scream. And a vocoder! This obviously draws similarity to Cynic’s Focus but I have to say the way it is done here is more subtle than Paul did on Focus. Both the more extreme vocals are ok and nothing out of the ordinary for the genre but the use of the vocoder adds a little something for those of us who enjoyed Focus but felt it was used a bit too much.

So Obscura in my eyes are successful in my eyes with Omnivium. They wear their influences a bit less on their sleeves but you can still tell where they are coming from and they have sort of given it more spin of their own so they are less of a clone. The vocals are ok and the vocoder is a nice touch as well. The songs are easy to enjoy to the ears of someone not really attuned to technical death metal which makes this a winner.

Score: 8/10
Standout Track: Ocean Gateways, Celestial Spheres, Septuagint

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