Obscura already had fans from across the globe by the time they came out with their debut full-length, Retribution, in 2006. The general public/professional feedback was…well let’s say they all loved it. Obscura would then go on to tour for two years, make some money, and rest at home before releasing their second album three years later in 2009. Coming from the country that is the home to more metalheads than anywhere else in the world, Obscura already had TONS of fan support and love to help give them that extra boost that every band wishes for in order to climb to the top. I personally love this album A LOT, but I will say that this is their least impressive album.
Obscura is made up of mainly musicians that were previously (or currently) in other big-name metal bands such as Blotted Science, Necrophagist, Defeated Sanity, Spawn of Possession, and Pestilence. Just because of that note, you can tell that this is a band made up of mature and serious musicians that know what they’re doing. So after lots of promotion and countless weekend performances that went on for roughly four years, Obscura felt that it was time to release the full-length that their fans had been desperately waiting for. When you look at the list of former members, you will see that Obscura has had over eight bassists, six guitarists, three drummers, and two vocalists. How the hell does a band like that burn through so many musicians so fast?? That’s a question that I will probably never be able to answer unless I get the opportunity to ask the band myself.
The overall sound quality of the album isn’t amazing, but it’s not bad at all. The drums are what annoy me. The kick drums have that clicking sound instead of the fat meaty sound that they’re supposed to have. But other than that, the drums aren’t too loud and it’s clear enough to easily be able to tell that they have a high-end musician on the throne. The sound of the distortion that they have put on the bass is really interesting and it’s actually what gives the lower end of the album tons of crunch. I love it when death metal bands (especially tech death) put some kind of distortion or effect on the bass guitar because it’s what gives the music that trippy/psychedelic technical death sound it’s supposed to have. There really isn’t anything special about the guitar distortion; it’s not annoying at all, but there really isn’t anything about it at all that speaks out to me.
The album starts off by showing you just how brutal and chaotic these guys can get with the track Humankind. The vocals that seem to be slightly out of time are what I like about this track along with the huge complex guitar chords and the unrelenting blast beat drumming. The thing about Retribution that makes it completely different from Obscura’s other albums is that there are more abstract and complex chords and less shredding. These abstract chords give the music a really ambient and sometimes even creepy feeling to send chills of utter satisfaction down the spine of the listener. There is a nice mix of tracks with unrelenting brutality and technicality and slower tracks to cool things down a bit to let the recover and prepare themselves for the next bombardment.
Usually I’m not one that would like to see covers on a band’s debut. But because Obscura covered these three songs so well, I have to say that this album wouldn’t be as amazing without them. They cover three classic death metal songs: Lack of Comprehension by Death, Synthetically Revived by Suffocation, and God of Emptiness by Morbid Angel. Their lead guitarist reflects Chuck Schuldiner’s licks with crystal clear clarity and understanding like a mirror fresh out of the factory. Obscura then opens the floodgates and lets loose the brutality in their cover of one of Suffocation’s first songs; making sure not to leave any survivors. They then strive to cover a more traditional death metal song by choosing a track off of Morbid Angel’s third album.
This album is an outstanding piece of work that fully and clearly expresses that these German metalheads are serious and mean business. This is not what I would recommend to someone who has never heard Obscura before. If you are new to this band, get the album Cosmogenesis (I’ve also written a review on that album). Eventually evolving into one of the most technical and most famous technical death bands on earth, this marks the beginning of Obscura’s journey uphill. I’ll tell you this, Retribution is amazing, but it’s Obscura’s worst album by far. I would give this album 17/20.