Progressive death metal masters Obscura are back with doing what they do best; making ground breaking records. Their newest offering ‘Diluvium’ is incredible. It is very different from the band’s discography. It is safe to assume that the band has put its efforts into exploring not just the depths of musicianship and technical prowess but a great deal of newer production possibilities are explored as far the genre(s) go. It is pretty evident by the sound of it. Just like most fans, I had massive expectations from the new album. There is a lot to be happy about. But if you’re looking for the old Obscura in the new album, you’ll instead find a new avatar, or as one of the song titles suggest, the bands own “Emergent Evolution”. It is a brand new Obscura. I find that they’ve picked up the best of the band’s past in the 4 album cycle and found a synthesis with their own musical backgrounds. The justice in progressive music lies in the assumption (at least I think so) a band is willing to almost overhaul itself. And everything just works out just fine. This is the case with Obscura. I feel that some of the older enjoyable aspects of the band’s music is missing but in its place there’s newer perspective in the music which is fresh, bold and above all personal.
The album rips open with “Clandestine Stars”. If you pay close attention, this song is your first cue that the band has decided to explore depths of production not conventional for its genre. At first glance its anyone’s guess that the band has returned to its aggressive riff rich music. But that isn’t really the case any more. The music isn’t aggressive for the sake of being metal or for the sake of sheer aggression. Aggression in the music is the slightest hint at any affiliation of the band’s musical past.Well, the music is super fast and technical but it doesn’t translate to brute aggression and skill in as far as the norm of being metal goes. Its a fresh sound I can’t quite place a finger on.
“Emergent Evolution” seems to slowly take my experience back to ‘Cosmogenesis’ in bits here and there. Linus’ bass work is very reminiscent of Jeroen’s playing. Rafael’s work on leads has added a flavour of melody far from the typical metal vibe. The newer sonic sensations and joys of listening to the band begin to make itself evident now.
“Diluvium” has a very modern metal flare to it. Steffen’s vocals have reached a new high on this one. His vocals have come a long way and they seem to get better. Sebastian’s drums are incredibly tight and it seems to be the biggest driving factor in the band’s new sound. This song is evocative of the band’s play with dark textures in their music. “Mortification of the Vulga” is probably the darkest sounding song off the record. The band’s approach to writing progressive rhythm sections is mind bending. This song has some wonderful guitar leads that sort of act as the song’s motif, something from the band’s past not seen so far in the record. This song is full of wonderful bass lines. “Ethereal Skies” is the band’s return to symphonic elements and string sections all accompanied by a very modern sounding approach to metal music. This song sounds epic. The transitions are almost flawless and satisfying. Its important to remember that orchestral music isn’t Obscura’s core so there’s a lot at stake to make this song fit right..
“Ekpyrosis” is essentially a lead guitar and bass paradise. Well the song carries forward the album vibe so far but this song has one of the best guitar solos and bass work that seems to fit the newer directions of Obscura. And well, Steffen’s vocals are simply awesome/ One thing brilliant about Sebastian’s work on the drums are his fills. Wherever he plays, his fills are one of the things that stand out. “The Seventh Aeon” opens up with a very nice drum fill, though I might assume its not among the technically most difficult as far as Sebastian’s writing goes. This song has some wonderful climatic sections in the music that compliment every nuance of the music. The lead section on this song flows with emotion and grace.
“The Conjuration” is mind blowing. Its the old Obscura aggression returning with newer tricks up its sleeve. The low and massive guitar tones and the ready to kill rhythm sections make this song absolutely killer. The lead guitar cries and screeches here. Its absolute mayhem. Like hey where was this Obscura so far in the album. “An Epilogue to Infinity” sounds like one of those songs that starts off with a climatic ending- an apt start to end an album. This song is pretty metal with the classic chugging sections in case any one of you missed them. Some sections of the song make this section of the album darker than the rest of the album, or spooky to say the least. This song is a return to everything about the band you missed despite enjoying the album so far. “A Last Farewell” is a harmony and texture rich ambient fretless bass solo. Its a peaceful and dark end to the album and the 4 album cycle, and more so the end times the album talks about.
All in all, Obscura never disappoint. ‘Diluvium’ is fantastic, groundbreaking and progressive in all spheres from musicality to production potential. As a long time fan of the band I can tell you there are things you’ll miss but there are a ton of new things you’ll discover with ‘Diluvium’. The album is articulate, inspiring and above all enjoyable. Simply speaking, ‘Diluvium’ is symbolic of Obscura setting new standards for progressive music once again. The album also maintains its own individuality from rest of the discography. Kudos to another great album!