OBSCURA — Diluvium (review)

OBSCURA — Diluvium album cover Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
OBSCURA in a way carried on the interesting cross-pollinating potentials of Necrophagist after guitarist Christian Muenzner jumped ships and brought forth his virtuosic neoclassical shredding skills infused within the sensibilities in a death metal context. While Muenzner would move on to crank out some solo releases as well as hook up with various bands such as Spawn Of Possession, Paradox, Alkaloid and Eternity’s End, OBSCURA retained a great deal of the his influence, that being the delicate balance of tech death metal bombast with the reverie of classic progressive rock. Throughout OBSCURA’s history only founder Steffen Kummerer has remained the glue that keeps the band together but somehow through thick and thin he has proved to be quite the director of the ever rotating cast of stunningly brilliant musicians who cross paths with him. On OBSCURA’s fifth studio album DILUVIUM, a new lineup is in play with Tom Gelschläger taking up guitar duties following Rafael Trujillo’s departure after “Akróasis.”

Tech death metal in the 21st century is an increasingly complex beast with bands spiraling out in all kinds of directions and often fizzle out into unrecognizable territory and alienating the extreme metal fanbase before latching onto something tangible to grasp onto. OBSCURA has been the exception to this rule with each following album getting more focused and tighter than the last. While the band started out more as a simple brutal death metal band, their progressive tendencies ratcheted up to the point where “Akróasis” seemed like the band could go full-on prog but on DILUVIUM, they dial back the prog aspects a bit and instead hammer out some extremely heavy and tight death metal delivery with more direct riffing, more recognizable song structures that remind a bit of Necrophagist with easier to follow compositions that only judicially exercise the meandering tendencies into more complex departures. DILIVIUM is the final album of the four album concept series following “Cosmogenesis” (2009), “Omnivium” (2011) and “Akróasis” (2016).

As “Clandestine Stars” abruptly begins DILUVIUM, it’s clear that OBSCURA aren’t wimping out as they mature but rather place their wisdom in better musical constructs rather than less intensity however this album isn’t afraid to experiment or continue bold and daring bouts into the progressive metal world in the least. The opening track announces the bombastic return of Germany’s premier tech death metal band with a vengeance but soon begins the welcome contrasting sounds by incorporating some cool coded vocals that i personally haven’t really heard since Cynic’s debut “Focus” all the way back in 93, well at least not as well incorporated into a heavier metal sound and not just for one track but the coded vocal effects find their way scattered throughout the entire album. Unique for the band and the album for that matter is the track “Ethereal Skies” which utilizes some symphonic effects in the from of cello, violin and other string arrangements but don’t worry - this track is still a brutal beast with the full death metal bravado, neoclassical guitar wankery with the string arrangements simply adding a bit of ambience and a few moments in the spotlight.

DILUVIUM simplifies the compositional constructs a bit and there are less meanderings into the arcane prog world which the previous two albums dived into, however simplicity is not in OBSCURA’s vocabulary and new forms of complexity emerge with the riff changes, Sebastian Lanser’s technical drumming craziness as well as Linus Klausenitzer’s excellent fretless bass workouts. The return of V. Santura’s excellent production skills guarantee a continuation of the beautifully mixed subtleties that marry the sensuality and aggressiveness fitting for a 21st century extreme metal album. All of this is great news for those who dislike long drawn out bouts of spaced out sonic surfing into the sonicsphere and eschew the heavyhead banging bombast that fans of this stuff are utterly addicted to. Being both a proghead as well as a metalhead, i do not prefer one or the other finding both styles compelling but something about DILUVIUM screams seasoned metal band reaching new heights of glory.

After five albums, OBSCURA shows no signs of slowing down or toning down the ferocious intensity. Instead the band is more focused by cranking out precisely cut progressively tinged tech death metal candy like there is a bottomless wellspring of creative energy to be tapped. As i see it, OBSCURA is playing the cards exactly right. There is always the tendency for a techie band to go for the jugular and continue the journey into the inaccessible for the average fan but on the other extreme the temptation to tame the music down so much for greater exposure can mean that it becomes tediously inane. OBSCURA on the other hand simply changed the equation around a bit by not jettisoning any of their signature traits but merely rationed them in more intelligent proportions. The result is perhaps the most balanced album of their career, one that walks the tightrope between the tech death and progressive metal that they have juggled throughout their career. While some may like this more or less than the previous albums, i simply find this to be yet another satisfying edition to a solid canon of intelligently designed sci-fi fueled tech metal that satisfies from beginning to end. Well done, guys.
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adg211288 wrote:
2 days ago
Finally checking this out now. While it doesn't have the immediate wow factor that Omnivium gave me, I'm already more into it than Akróasis.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
15 days ago
They've become a favorite band for me. I haven't been able to listen to as much music this year so new music has really gone down but some bands must be heard and Obscura is one of them :)
17 days ago
I ordered this last week. I have two Obscura albums which I think are totally rad and I will probably have a fourth one before the year is up.
adg211288 wrote:
18 days ago
Looking forward to giving this one a listen. Haven't checked out too many new releases this year (by my usual standard at least).

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