posted on 3/2010 By:
Say what you want about Relapse Records and some of their re-issue choices (16, Toxic Holocaust, Deceased to name a few) you can’t discount some of their excellent recent re-issues such as the Atheist discography, God Macabre’s The Winterlong and just this year alone re-issues of Nirvana 2002’s recordings, Convulse’s 1992 debut,World Without God and Obscura’s 2006 debut, Retribution.
Last year's sophomore album from this tech death metal outfit, Cosmogeneis was one of my top albums of the year and was critically acclaimed across the board for its polished and memorable take on technical death metal. So I was eager to hear the band’s first album released on tiny Vot Records a mere 4 years ago. Even more so considering the line up overhaul that occurred between releases, seeing only vocalist/ guitarist Stephan Kummerer perform on both albums, and he’s far more feral on Retribution.
That element in itself appears to explain the development of the band, (notably Pestilence bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling and ex Necrophagist members) into a far more polished and technical act, as Retribution is a much more raw and traditional death metal release. While still technical persay, it's not nearly the polished, twangy jazz fest that Cosmogenesis was but much more in line with influential (and underrated) country men Morgoth and a more classic Death sounding affair (just listen to the start of “Alone”). And to some, that may be preferred to the sound of the more clinical and pristine tones of Cosmogenesis. Personally, I enjoy both a lot, and the new mastering and artwork certainly helps decide on a purchase choice for a merely 4 year old album.
That being said, you can hear the seeds of current Obscura being laid in the song writing, even if the performances aren’t quite as snazzy, noodly or Atheist sounding as the likes of “Humankind,” “Nothing,” “None Shall Be Spared” and “Sentiment.” They mix a subtle sense of melody, experimentation and acoustics amid the slightly more ferocious compositions that some might not actually recognize as Obscura upon casual or initial listens based on Cosmogenesis. Look no further than the three classic bonus cover tracks for some of the major influences: Suffocation’s “Synthetically Revived,” Death’s “Lack of Comprehension” and Morbid Angel’s “God of Emptiness.” All three are well done, note for note and it helps that they are all some of my favorite classic death metal songs ever.
A very worthwhile re-issue for fans of death metal, and even more so if you were one of the many people, like me who first heard Obscura last year.
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