July 12, 2018 Obscura – Diluvium (Album Review)
Technical Death Metal is the secret-society subgenre of the Metal community (yeah, yeah Math Metal is probably up there too, but no one is too worried about those guys). Severe precision and blinding speed are the twin counterparts to idiosyncratic visions and longstanding allegory. See? That sentence alone surely sent readers into the dizzying black hole of uncommon words. Perhaps the best way to appreciate such an exclusive genre is to not try to understand it. Defending their Tech Metal title, Obscura releases fifth studio album Diluvium, via Relapse Records on Friday, July 13, 2018.
Established in Landshut, Germany in 2002, Obscura’s modest beginnings and extraordinary sound had them in an elevator to the top (tours, labels, fans) almost instantaneously. While founder and Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Steffen Kummerer is the only remaining original member, the band’s impressive touring lineup has seen the likes of ex-Necrophagist and Pestilence members (another fan-gathering plus). Current members include Sebastian Lanser (drums), Linus Klausenitzer (bass), and Rafael Trujillo (guitar). Named after Canadian giants Gorguts’ 1998 album, Obscura readies the world for the final installment of their four-album concept with Diluvium.
Opening track “Clandestine Stars” hammers a quick and complex intro of signature Obscura shreds courtesy of Trujillo. Kummerer howls his guttural return as the track settles into the first verse and hook. Contesting the already-accelerated pace, Lanser doubles his time and helps himself to pockets of tripled hits and accents of cymbals throughout. Using almost the exact same clean-vocal effect as wielded on 2016’s Akroasis, Kummerer ties Diluvium to its predecessor in as many minute ways as possible.
Title-track “Diluvium” is a winding staircase into the abyss of rapid, whole-fretboard spanning guitar and bass. Klausenitzer and Trujillo play an extreme (good natured) game of cat-and-mouse as their instruments challenge one another, beckoning their place as track leader. Doubling into a deep breakdown, Lanser strikes with mammoth proportion and anticipation. Kummerer surfaces the song with molten vocals before a rare major-key change. After just a few seconds, the cheery riff dissolves back into nefarious turmoil and all is right in the world.
Creating an audible portrait in the medium of notes and rhythm, “Ethereal Skies” shows true virtuosity. The winding guitar intro leads listeners down a well-worn path of classic Obscura beginnings, but finds its unique character within a harrowing solo around the 3:30 mark. Klausenitzer’s fretless bass is a constant backbone to Trujillo’s guitar. Nominated for Loudwire’s Best Bassist of the Year in 2016, Klausenitzer is a surefire keeper. The backtrack of a string section and Kummerer’s rabid snarls catapults this otherwise-standard Obscura song into a more-desirable, repeat listen.
Paying homage to the German philosophers from which they draw inspiration, “The Seventh Aeon” and “An Epilogue to Infinity” are also tracks not to be missed. While Diluvium may be the final piece of this four-album puzzle, those who know – and love – Obscura know that another gear-grinding concept is waiting in the wings. After a direct-support spot on Sepultura’s Machine Messiah Tour across Europe in early 2018, Obscura has yet to announce a headlining tour of their own. With only two confirmed shows this summer (both overseas), fans will have to wait a while longer to see Obscura perform Diluvium live. Touring withheld, CrypticRock gives Diluvium 3 out of 5 stars.