Review Summary: The triumphant return of the black death
I have found it. Finally, after many ages of conjecture and search by scholarly and religious figures alike, it has come. The second coming is upon us, but not quite like it was envisioned. It was said to be instantaneous and worldwide; visible and audible, and indeed it is all that and more. The descent of the holy figure is as glorious as anyone could have dreamed, but for reasons not expected. The second coming is not of Christ, but of pure, filthy death metal riffage. Descending like meteors from the heavens above, Obliteration pummel us into submission with an onslaught of technical, putrid riffing, somehow coming together to create the monstrous Black Death Horizon
. They have already showed us their almost otherworldly penchant for huge riffs and sickening vocals on their 2009 sophomore effort Nekropsalms
, but this record prays at an entirely different church: one of masterful production, frantic pace, and truly brilliant death metal songwriting.
If anything, the kind of veiled technicality present on Black Death Horizon
is its most potent attribute, because sometimes the riffing is so murky you can’t catch the hugely impressive guitar playing or the wicked plucking of the bass until things shift in a way that slaps them right at the forefront. Then, we are met with a truly monumental spectacle where the guitars become sentient, the drums unleash pure chaos, and the bass proves to be the music’s lifeblood rather than a cold, dead corpse lost somewhere back in the mix. It all invokes something so wholeheartedly real, making the album have an almost literary suspension of disbelief in that you really can’t believe that the record can maintain such a level of brilliance – but it does. The mounting dread of "Transient Passage" or “Ascendance” makes for a brilliant transition into the otherworldly melody or blistering solo that they eventually spill into, a motif that is used to great effect several times on the record. There are also more savage numbers like “Goat Skull Crown” or “Sepulchral Rites” that prove to be less about building atmosphere but rather about unleashing it in a hail of drumming, echoing vocals, and swirling riffs.
It all comes together to form a display of death metal mastery that is almost biblical in scope. Black Death Horizon
is only seven tracks in length, but it is absolutely massive, thanks to songwriting that does not take a breath and production that slots it all together in a sound that is raw, murky and listenable all at the same time. Thanks to that short length, there is not even any time for filler, not that Obliteration would be capable of such a thing. It's nothing new in the genre, but it is all so refined and well-written that the lack of innovation barely even matters. There are times when the shrieking vocals are so desperate and frantic, the drumming so impossibly fast, and the riffing so maniacal that you think Obliteration simply cannot improve upon such brilliance, but then things fade away and a new track begins an even more savage beating than before. For those that think death metal died sometime in the early to mid-1990’s, I have great news. It may have went away to whatever unholy place it came from, but here in 2013 Black Death Horizon
is the glorious second coming that is everything it could have been and more. Revel in its darkness.