Released by Olympic Records '98, Featuring:
Luc Lemay (vocals, guitar)
Steeve Hurdle (vocals, guitar)
Steve Cloutier (bass)
Patrick Robert (drums)
This album is excellent. If ever I am to recommend an excellent death metal album, I recommend this one. It carries as much in-genre originality as anyone is likely to hear. The popping and squealing guitars and bass might sound like a caucophonous mess to someone with virgin ears but once you realize thar those pops and squeals are extremely technical riffs, you understand the magic of Obscura. Of all of Gorguts amazing releases, Obscura is the best. It launches them into the front of the pack of technical death metal but doesn't leave you shaking your head at excessive wanking or random brutality.
Speed is not in short supply here but it is also not excessive. Every note can be heard and that can be attested to both the skill of guitarists Luc and Steve Hurdle, and to the discretion on the part of the band for not maxing out their talents which would give the album a completely different sound. If a song like Earthly Love were to just charge through at top speed, the near break down sections would entirely lose their effect. Though this is not a top speed album, Patrick Robert must be having quite a workout behind the set as he delivers and enfilade of blast beats and rolls. His drum parts are definitely creative and technical but he doesn't stick out quite as well as say, Quebec cousin Cryptopy's drummer Flo Mournier. As a side note, ex-guitarist Daniel Mongrain is a live guitarist for Cryptopsy.
The nearly avant-garde nature of this album can sometimes be distracting as you get lost listening to just one part and all of a sudden realize that you have completely tuned out everything else, including other parts of the song. Though the vocals are pretty standard death metal fare, they are rarely the most grating part of the music. The arrangements of pop squeal guitars and blasting drums often are so assaulting that you entirely lose track of the vocals. The formula almost seems to be, when there are vocals, make sure the music outweighs them and only resort to harmonious melody when they disappear. Not that the songs are nearly that predictable but in a general grand sheme of the album, that seems to be the case. No, this is certainly one of if not the most complex album I have ever heard. It blows None So Vile out of the water and I still consider that album a solid 4.5/5.
If I had to recommend songs, I would say The Art of Sombre Ecstacy, Earthly Love, La Vie Est Prelude, Faceless Ones and Sweet Silence win. The track Clouded is almost a doom metal song at its super slow tempo and length. If any song were to 'not fit' here, this would be it (of course, the whole point of this album seems to be not fitting). People looking for a way to escape harsh vocals will be happy to learn that Sweet Silence is an instrumental song. Of course, like I said earlier, the instruments can often be more grating than the vocals and this song is no exception.
This album doesn't lack solos, but they are probably my least favorite part of the album. The riffs are generaly so complicated and interesting, I'm often disappointed by the solos. They seem almost below the skill level required to play the riffs. One thing I do like though is the lack of cohesiveness within the solos. They often hop around like a lame animal squeeking in and out of harmonics and often completely out of key making for some very dissonant noise that almost hurts to hear, but at the same time makes me crave more.
Buy this album. Plain and simple. If you want excellent death metal that will send your cats racing up the walls and leave your siblings crying, this is it. This is one of the quintessential death metal albums. Put this next to Cryptopsy's None So Vile and Death's Sound of Perseverance and this album will hold its ground unshakingly. When someone tells you to turn that racket off you should be happy because to almost everyone, this should sound like racket. Not until you truly listen and listen hard can you fully appreciat this album. The sick mindedness that must have gone into writing these riffs and creating such a disjointed album makes me queasy but at the same time craving more. Like a hard drug, this is addictive. It will only degenerate your soul, but you can never get enough.