OBSCURA - Omnivium [Review]

Genre: Progressive Death Metal

Label: Relapse Records

Released: March 29th, 2011

Reviewer: Spiritcrusher

At this point in time, Obscura need no introduction; their unique form of technical death metal is recognizable to most metal listeners. After releasing their 2009 album, Cosmogenesis, Obscura took over the metal scene by storm. Two years later, Obscura released “Omnivium”, and that certainly was not a disappointment at all. The album was not a repeat of Cosmogenesis, as lots of new elements were included, but any Obscura listener will enjoy this album just as much. The lineup is still the same, with founder and mastermind Steffen Kummerer on guitars/vocals, Jeroen Paul Thesseling (who recently quit) on bass, and former Necrophagist members Christian Muenzner and Hannes Grossmann on guitars and drums respectively.

Though I mentioned that Obscura bring some new ideas into this album, it still has everything that we enjoyed listening to on Cosmogenesis and their previous works: blastbeats, technical and melodic solos, slick bass licks, and riffs that could start earthquakes in the East Coast of the US (…oh wait).

Obscura opted to add some new elements in this album, and they were not subtle. The listener will notice the use of more dissonant chords and harmonies, the use of acoustic guitars, and the influence of psychedelic elements in their music. As stated before, though, that does not really compromise the influences that Obscura have had since their early days.

Omnivium opens up with Septuagint, with a beautiful intro, consisting of acoustic guitars. After a build up with the drums and bass coming in, a signature Obscura riff comes in, along with Grossmann’s flawless blastbeats. It is a fantastic track, and Obscura made sure they put everything into it. I also am a huge fan of the interlude in the middle with the beautiful interlude with Thesseling’s beautiful moving bass parts and clean singing! Though I’m not a huge fan of clean singing in extreme metal and its vast sub-genres, I think he does a good job with it, and uses it sparingly.

The next track, Vortex Omnivium, is 3 minute shorter, but is the perfect follow-up. Just like Septuagint, it sounds like the Obscura we know and love. Though I’m short on words for it, it’s everything you would expect and more. Something that really stood out for me on the track was a very proggy interlude with off-beat drumming and Thessling’s bass filling the room with some neat guitar licks trading off between Muenzner and Kummerer.

Those looking for something different should listen to “Ocean Gateways”. That was a very unexpected track on the album. It’s not as fast as a typical Obscura track and is much simpler than one would expect for a technical death metal band. The riffs are filled with dissonant chords that are simply skull crushing. Deathcore bands that have been using these chords time and time again are probably quite envious at this point. Kummerer’s gutturals send chills down my spine every time, and the bass fills up the atmosphere beautifully. It’s a must listen!

Prismal Dawn also starts with an acoustic, and sounds stunning. The melodies are beautiful yet eerie, and the classical influences of Obscura are present. Their interpretation of classical music in their metal is very different than what most metal artists have done, and that is something I appreciate. The song is incredibly dynamic, from slower off beat rhythms to crazy blastbeats. It’s definitely a unique track.

The album ends with Aevum, a mammoth 8-minute track that is far from disappointing. Like Prismal Dawn, it’s a song that has so much going on and shows how much Obscura pushed themselves to the limit on this album. The song (and album) ends with a slow riff with pounding drums that fade away with time.

The iTunes version of the album includes a cover of Cacophony’s classic track, Concerto. While Kummerer and Muenzner emulate what Jason Becker and Marty Friedman did perfectly, I was hoping for something that was a bit more unique, something that had a taste of Obscura in it. I also think they lacked the “soul” that Friedman and Becker put in their music. The solos were beautiful but weren’t as tasteful. It’s definitely worth the listen though.

All the tracks sound great, but I had to extensively review a few, because a few sentences on each track would not do any of them true justice.

I think the only negative thing about the album is that only a few of the tracks had a “hook”. Cosmogenesis’ tracks all had hooks and were incredibly memorable. For those who want a catch in their songs, not all of them on Omnivium will have them, or would be quite subtle. While talking to my friends about this album, I found that more musicians enjoyed this album than metal enthusiasts, though I don’t think it would steer anyone away from giving this a listen.

Omnivium is an album that can suck the entire planet into a black hole!

Favorite tracks:

  • Septuagint
  • Ocean Gateways
  • Velocity

Click here to order "Omnivium" via AmazonMp3

[Ed note: Make sure to catch OBSCURA Live In Dubai on September 23rd. Click here for more information!]

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