"Akróasis" is the 4th full-length studio album by German death metal act Obscura. The album was released through Relapse Records in February 2016. It´s been 5 years since the release of "Omnivium (2011)" and in addition to a lot of touring the time has also been spend with a lot of lineup changes. In fact the only remaining member since the last album is band founder/guitarist/lead vocalist Steffen Kummerer. Lineup changes are not unusual for Obscura though, who have had quite a few prolific musicians in their fold throughout the years in artists like bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling (Pestilence, Mayan), drummer Hannes Grossmann (Necrophagist, Blotted Science, Eternity's End), bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Sadus, Iced Earth), and guitarist Christian Münzner (Alkaloid, Eternity's End, Spawn of Possession, Necrophagist). The new guys in the lineup on "Akróasis" are bassist Linus Klausenitzer (who has actually played with the band since 2011), drummer Sebastian Lanser, and guitarist Tom Geldschläger.
Stylistically the album opener "Sermon of the Seven Suns" continues the technical/progressive death metal style of "Omnivium (2011)", but already on the second track "The Monist" things change a bit. It´s a darker track with deeper growling vocals, and an interesting approach to composition, harmony, and structure. It´s also generally a bit more stripped down and less layered than "Sermon of the Seven Suns", and that contrast continues throughout the album. Some tracks are quite sophisticated and layered, while others feature a more stripped approach. That doesn´t mean the latter type tracks aren´t technically challenging and compositionally complex, but it´s obvious Obscura have deliberately gone for a more "bare" sound on those tracks.
In the other end of the spectrum you have a track like the closing 15:15 minutes long epic "Weltseele", which is probably the band´s most ambitious composition to date. It´s an incredibly intelligent and varied track, which proves beyond any doubt why Obscura are widely regarded as one of the most prolific contemporary technical/progressive death metal acts on the scene. Yes it´s sometimes a bit too polished and lacking grit and rawness, but on the other hand they deliver their brand of death metal with great conviction and incredible skill. Some of the things played here are designed to make your jaw drop and succeed well in doing that. Fast-paced precision drumming, technical and predominantly melodic oriented death/thrash guitar riffs and solos, and the high pitched snarling and deeper growling vocals in front. The occasional robotic vocoder voice part is also a part of the soundscape (Cynic style).
"Akróasis" features a powerful, clear, and detailed sound production, which suits Obscura´s sound pretty well. The choice to remove some of the omnipresent layering of sounds on some of the tracks on the album, is really successful to my ears. It makes "Akróasis" a more varied listen than "Omnivium (2011)". Not necessarily a better or more consistent release than the predecessor but definitely more varied and occassionally also a bit more raw.
Upon conclusion "Akróasis" is yet another high quality technical/progressive death metal album by Obscura. Despite the many lineup changes and years between albums, Obscura have maintained their signature sound, but made just enough adjustments and little changes to said sound to not grow stale. The compositions are sophisticated, powerful, and intriguing, the sound production professional and detailed, and the musicianship is on a high level on all posts. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.