Obscura – A Valediction

You are currently viewing Obscura – A Valediction

Year: 2021
Total Time: 51:32
Label: Nuclear Blast

Truth be told, if someone starts talking about the technical Death Metal of the last 20 years it will be very difficult not to mention NECROPHAGIST and their spiritual successors OBSCURA. The Germans took the sound of the legendary CYNIC, DEATH and ATHEIST, sped it up with blast beats and skilfully added shredding guitar solos, thus creating a very special sound that made them stand out from the dozens of other bands in the genre.

After completing their space tetralogy with 2018’s “Diluvium,” the band begins with “A Valediction,” a new thematic trilogy. And what’s better in this new beginning than the return of Jeroen Paul Thesseling (PESTILENCE) on fretless bass and Christian Münzner on guitar? Two members who played an important role in the early years of the band. Unfortunately, Hannes Grossmann wasn’t a part of these returns, but the equally talented David Diepold sat behind the drumkit this time.

With a new concept and a renewed line up, OBSCURA presents us with a new approach to their music. After two more progressive works, “A Valediction” finds the Germans in their most aggressive but at the same time most melodeath phase. Most songs feature fast speeds with blastbeats alternating with more thrashy tempos. The riffs draw inspiration from the 90s melodic Death Metal scene while the solos have become more neoclassical.

As a result, the band’s sound became more direct and more “accessible”. Riffs, solos and choruses linger longer in your head, with “When Stars Collide” being the most obvious example; a SOILWORK-meets-IN FLAMES song whose chorus with Bjorn Strid’s clean vocals, is perhaps the catchiest thing OBSCURA have ever done.

Another noticeable change is Steffen Kummerer’s vocals which mostly range in high blackish screams just like what Steffen does in his melodic Black metal band THULCANDRA. The exception is “Devourer Usurper”, which stands out like the fly in the milk of the melodic storm of the album, as it feels like a tribute to the slow tracks of MORBID ANGEL with Steffen using his low guttural vocals.

While at first, I was thrilled with this more melodic approach of the Germans, the truth is that after repeated listens “A Valediction” has more in common with melodic Death Metal than with the technical Death past of OBSCURA and certainly nothing to do with the more progressive side of “Akroasis” and “Diluvium”. The emphasis on speed, the lack of the heavier traditional Death Metal elements and the more one-dimensional vocal style makes the album sound less adventurous than the band’s previous releases. It is as if the whole creativity of the band was consumed in the virtuoso guitar solos that dominate every song.

There are certainly some very inspiring moments like the opening “Forsaken”, the thrashy “Neuromancer” and the instrumental “Orbital Elements II”, but personally I found it quite tiresome after multiple listens. I noticed that in the album’s writing credits, Christian Münzner is shown as the main composer and I don’t know if that played a part.

“A Valediction” is intense and furious. Ιt is perhaps OBSCURA’s most “easy to get into” album and will surely bring them many new fans, especially now that they are under the wings of NUCLEAR BLAST. However, the change of the core of their sound from the American prog/tech Death Metal to the melodic Swedish Death Metal and the massive increase of neoclassical influences (to the extent that several parts on the album sound like Power Metal) removed a large piece of the magic that the Germans had created up to now.

Rating: 7.5/10
Editor: Dimitris Benetatos
Related Link: OBSCURA – Official Page

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