The Great Obscurantism
posted on 7/2009 By:
When listening to The Great Obscurantism, the full-length Mankind’s Demise debut from Quebec, Canada’s Superior Enlightenment, I can hear a group of individuals who are hungry to take their place among the more well-known bands of this ilk with their own take on the pedal-to-the-floor version of blasting hell. Granted, it’s not quite earth-shattering in originality, but there’s also not a lot of old hat going on here either. Veterans in other bands (Utlagr, Fragments Of Sentience, Magistir Dixit), this assembly puts forth a razor sharp collection of nine tunes that take a step forward by aligning transparent melodies with a cold, nearly industrial black/death cortex, and do so with impressive skill.
It doesn’t seem like much, but this Belphegor/Mutant/Anaal Nathrakh mash-up shows some truly devastating potential already with the white-hot pace of the mechanical “Digital Holocaust” being a prime example of their machinelike style. They don’t waste time and fill space with extravagant samples or a lot of electronica, instead choosing to stick to tightly wound tremolo and robotic blast beats that sound programmed, but are in fact played on an actual kit by drummer Auster. Unusually, it’s those chilled, thin melodies that put the industrial spin on things even more so than the drums or sporadic effects. But for the most part, SE keep the intensity levels pushed thoroughly into the red with clean, calculated, ripping metal. There are tracks that will tear you a new one with no mercy like “Ineffable Winds Of Neptune”, while “Divided They Fall” is more of a confrontation between machine and man due to a very human, less demonic near-shouted vocal delivery, quick rhythmic breaks, and a subdued, taunting midsection.
To expand proceedings a bit, “Golden Ratio” starts out with a really catchy midpaced Nordic groove with big, stomping guitar riffs that recall Immortal’s “Against The Tide” before launching once again into a flurry of blasts. These rare slower sections are more interesting overall than the regulation machinegun salvo, although the choppy pacing and timing of the fast parts during “Not To Be” are quite jammin', especially when leading into a surprising acoustic break that sounds perfectly at home despite the bright contrast. At least we know they can actually play something sophisticated while surrounded by this merciless barrage of volume, and it’s enjoyable while it lasts.
The unfortunate part of all this is the feeling that once you’ve heard the first three songs, you’ve pretty much heard everything, despite the acoustic breaks and bare shifts in tempo. For being so energetic and awesomely tight, there’s very little wow factor despite a few moments that successfully grab your attention and hold it for the duration, such as the smoking buzzsaw rhythms at the end of “Digital Holocaust,” and the Viking-esque, searing riffs of “The Burden.” If the majority was as captivating as the slower sections of a few choice cuts, we’d have a serious new contender on our hands, with the last four tracks being the best of the bunch due to a notable attempt at dynamics. These guys are definitely not here to patch any holes, but to detonate even more explosives, and with a little more dimension added to their already formidable arsenal, I imagine Superior Enlightenment will someday cause more permanent damage. So for now we’ll have to settle for welts and bruises, and be thankful to walk away from The Great Obscurantism in one piece, because next time we might not be quite so lucky.
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