Review Summary: Obscura's long awaited delivery
It has been five years since the last release from Obscura, and long overdue according to their fans. On Akroasis
Obscura seem to have taken all of their major influences and melded them seamlessly with their brand of technical progressive death metal. Upon first listen it is abundantly clear that Death has left their mark on this band and with choruses such as those in “The Monist” I can’t help but to also hear Cynic playing in the back of my mind.
It is the blend of these two great influences with the virtuosic abilities and incredible sense of melody that make Obscura’s signature sound. In fact, Akroasis
is arguably the most melodic and accessible of their releases to date. Throughout the entire album the band creates a sensory atmosphere so thick the listener could almost lay back and let it float them away. On the surface, little waves of clean guitar melody gently bob on top of a thicker sound of either another melody or rhythm. The rich audible bass provides a buoyancy to the higher melodies, even including its own at times, and the drums are a constant, driving, complex current. The best example of this comes from the title track, also the first single the band released. Admittedly, it is pretty self indulgent, especially in the sweeping lead guitars, however no one part stands out over another, each melody supports the others. So even while those leads are playing thirty seconds or sixteenth triplets they are part of the grander scheme of the song, creating a capacious, yet cohesive sound. This is not to imply that Obscura has sacrificed their heavy sound in the sake of melody. In fact, “Ode to the Sun” sounds like an ode to Retribution
, their first full length release. Perhaps an homage to their namesake.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Obscura is their production. In a genre replete with the sounds of instruments seemingly made of the same material as the CD that contains their music Obscura has stood out as being incredibly sensible about how they have had their past works produced. On Akroasis
, this is no less true. While everything sounds super clean (which is probably more a consequence of their musicianship than the work of the producer), they still manage to keep a somewhat raw death metal sound; a quality that is highly undervalued by many of Obscura’s peers.
, in Greek, means hearing or listening. I’m not sure if there could be a more appropriate title. The entire album is an hour long listening experience. It is definitely great to see technical death metal coming out so strong this early and, personally, gives me high hopes for the rest of the year.