Germany’s death metal band, Obscura, dropped their latest album, entitled Diluvium, just a moment ago. Diluvium is the final chapter in the musical narrative of a quartet of concept albums that began with Cosmogenesis.
Obsucra has been around since 2002, and during the intervening years the band’s lineup has resembled a revolving door, with the exception of guitarist/vocalist Steffen Kummerer, the band’s progenitor. The present lineup includes Kummerer (guitar, vocals), Rafael Trujillo (guitar), Linus Klausenitzer (bass), and Sebastian Lanser (drums). If the extant lineup is the outcome of a revolving door, then the world needs more rotating entryways.
Tagged frequently as progressive death metal, the term ‘progressive’ implies Obscura continues to develop and expand the boundaries of death metal. In other words, they shun the customary sonic model of death metal, construing new eventualities for the model. Or put it this way: they push the envelope in new directions. They accomplish this feat through discriminating vocal effects, a signature bassline, and the inclusion of esoteric philosophical belvederes, as well as perceptible melodic strokes.
Technically speaking, the band demonstrates dazzling expertise, bordering on lethal superiority. Obscura’s compositions reflect punishing complexity, thrilling nuances, and penetrating textures other death metal bands can only dream about. Case in point is Lanser’s out of this world drumming, a hybrid of Joey Jordison on the double-bass pedals, Keith Moon for reckless savagery, and John Bonham for hitting power.
Highlights on the album include “Clandestine Stars,” “Convergence,” and “Conjuration.” All three tunes encompass zombie shredding licks, along with contagious hooks, and fire-starting solos. The title track and “Mortification of the Vulgar Sun” feature melodic interludes, sonic confections of pure elegance, transporting the tunes beyond the typical death metal temperament. Still, or perhaps in spite of, the dulcet infusions, both songs pack an electrifying punch, like a cannonball to the diaphragm.
The two songs where Obscura really blurs the lines are “Ethereal Skies” and the last song on the album, “An Epilogue to Infinity.” The former carries an Emerson, Lake and Palmer-on-crank feel during the intro, and then ramps up to imposing death metal dynamics, while retaining hints of electronica effluvium. The latter invokes a Wagnerian leitmotif of gargantuan proportions, infusing the tune with a baroque operatic resonance of delicious bouquet.
With Diluvium, a grandly superb album that’s off the chain, Obscura throws down the gauntlet to the rest of metaldom: Strive for excellence. Try to do better than the best, even if it means a lifetime of dissatisfaction for your own inadequacy.