Monday, January 30, 2012

Obscura - Omnivium


I discovered Obscura literally weeks before the release of this album. So after I checked out Cosmogenesis and Retribution, I was excited for Omnivium! There isn’t much background information at all concerning this album other than that their godly bassist left the band for reasons unknown. There wasn’t nearly as much promotion and advertising as there was for Cosmogenesis, most likely because all they needed was to get the world’s attention with Cosmogenesis and just let things flow on their own from there (which is exactly what happened). Since I had just discovered Obscura right before this album’s release, I looked at other reviewer’s opinions on Cosmogenesis and especially what their hopes for Obscura’s next album would be, and almost all of them said “less guitar ‘wankery’” and “more fusing of other genres”. The first track on this album proves that Obscura did all of this.

Septuagint starts out with an acoustic intro that sounds like Opeth with a mixture of folk. The hardest part about having one of these kinds of acoustic intros is making the transition to the distorted guitars/metal part of the song and making it go smooth and not sound abrupt. Obscura pull this off PERFECTLY by jumping into a gothic-sounding melodic death part that only further sucks you into the 55 minute tech death ecstasy known as Omnivium. There is also a part of the song that has acoustic background guitars that are led by the sweet smooth sound of Jeroen’s fretless bass.

The musician that improved the most during the writing process of this album would definitely be the vocalist. His sandpaper-rough screams pierce the wind with the precision of a lazar. His vocals sounded a little bit underdeveloped in Cosmogenesis and even sounded like he was straining his voice at times. In Omnivium, he sounds a thousand times more confident and powerful. But here’s the thing that bothers me: the amount of emotion that is contained within his screams is much less now; probably because the band is now using their music more of a money maker and a creative expression than as an emotion output.

The reason why it seems the bassist got turned down is because he set his guitar at a deeper, fatter pitch to give the album more body on the lower end since it was lacking in that area on their other albums. Some of those that LOVED Cosmogenesis’ high level of technicality and speed were somewhat disappointed with Omnivium’s much lower technicality rate. I don’t really see why this is a bad thing at all because it’s a way of showing that Obscura isn’t totally dependent on extremely high complexity levels and are fully capable of making amazing death metal without having loads of it. Of course though, technicality is a big part of Obscura’s signature sound, so it’s definitely possible to have Obscura songs that are too simple and slow.

Ocean Gateways is my favorite song off this album. This is one of Obscura’s most complex songs ever. But most of the complexity doesn’t lay within the guitar solos or the drum lines; it lies within the overall song structure. Just listen to all of the smoothly transitioned tempo changes and mood alterations that take place throughout the track! It’s amazing! Also, the thing that got me hooked on this song is that their vocalist does super deep growls that send chills down my back instead of his traditional mid-ranged scream.

This is an album that is impossible to turn down and is a must-buy. Obscura shows major changes in their sound while still managing to keep high levels of speed and technicality to make the fans happy. Omnivium is what some might call “tech death ecstasy.” I would give this a score of 18/20.