OBSCURA appeals to fans of “math metal,” or bands that have thousands of riffs per song who try and be as technical as possible. Obviously with ex-members of NECROPHAGIST, OBSCURA attracts fans of the progressive/technical metal subgenre, such as THE FACELESS, CYNIC, ATHEIST, and MESHUGGAH just to name a few. However, they may provide more depth and personality than the bands mentioned. The previous album, Cosmogenesis, produced some mind boggling riffs with amazing and unique bass lines delivered by Jeroen Paul Thesseling, but Omnivium goes into throwback mode, as the music is generally in the vein of the debut album, Retribution. Like Retribution, Omnivium is a little more brutal and spiced up than their last effort, but still technical enough so that guitar and drum nerds will still be amazed with the musicianship.
“Septuagint” starts the album innocently enough, with lush acoustic guitars, followed by a safe melodic riff, until the brutality of the blast beats and frantic guitar work kick in. As “Vortex Omnivium” begins with a brutal section, towards the end of the track, Thesseling’s influences are brought to center stage with a funky bass line that works well, and a lot more pronounced than the bass lines he played on the much maligned Spheres album by PESTILENCE.
There are some weak spots in the album, as “Ocean Gateways” is on the doomy side, and tries to sound a tad like MORBID ANGEL’s “God of Emptiness,” which does not mesh well in between the fast tracks. Showing off too much can be overkill and bring the album down, like when “Prismal Dawn” has too many scales played at 10x speed, and makes it sound more like a practice/jam session structured within a song.
The lengthy album starts to drag a bit during the middle tracks such as with “Celestial Spheres,” because too many notes are all over the place without giving the music a chance to breathe – the experience can be quite overwhelming at times. Fortunately, “Velocity” picks the brutality back up and awakens the senses with a fine balance of jazz interludes and grinding blasts. OBSCURA throws in their proggy elements for good measure in the beautiful “A Transcendental Serenade,” with some lovely bass parts, jazzy drum patterns, and overall godly guitar sweeps and solos. Finishing off the auditory blitz comes “Aevum,” with catchy hooks and crushing blast beats from hell; thus completing the heavy dose of guitar and drum wizardry.
Omnivium deserves many repeated listens, not only because the album clocks in at just under an hour, but because of the many layers involved. The amazing bass work, guitar picking, arpeggios, and drum techniques will all satisfy the thirst of the ultimate music nerd within us. OBSCURA fits the Relapse roster perfectly (i.e. ORIGIN, ABYSMAL DAWN) with their brutal and technical style, but they definitely lead the pack in terms of songwriting, jaw dropping musicianship and proficiency. (Relapse Records)