Obscura – Omnivium
While naming one’s band Obscura after an album like the Gorguts opus is released seems to be making too much of a statement, it can be excused – Obscura is by no means new to the metal scene, and its members even less so. Though he is notable for playing on Necrophagist‘s Epitaph, Christian Muenzner played on Defeated Sanity‘s debut promo and their split with Poppy Seed Grinder, and has thus clearly established himself as a seasoned death metal musician. What can’t be excused is how little Obscura have progressed from Cosmogenesis, and how wasteful Omnivium is of Muenzner’s talent.
The album’s finest moments can be seen with songs like “Euclidean Elements” and “Celestial Spheres” , which show where Muenzner’s leads make the dominant impression on its direction. The problem isn’t so much that his talent isn’t showcased, but that it is frequently out of place, as Muenzner and Steffen Kummerer play in quite different styles that don’t always mesh well together. For instance, compare Obscura’s sound on Retribution to Omnivium – Kummerer is the only original member, and while Retribution was a decent death metal record, what the band does now goes much beyond that. It is more a question of chemistry than which musician is better than the other, but for what Obscura seemed to be going for on Omnivium, it is a shame that Muenzner didn’t have someone to help flesh out what he had imagined for it.
On Omnivium, Obscura strive for a more unique sound than what was accomplished on Cosmogenesis. The extent to which they are successful in their endeavor is questionable, but nonetheless, the effort is duly noted. The main issue is that efforts to transcend their previous record seem much too forward at times – on the opening track, “Septaguint”, they’ll go from a Ride the Lightning-like clean section, to a typical melodic death metal riff, which is unlike anything on Cosmogenesis, but also the cheesiest and most forced thing they’ve ever done. They would have made it more interesting if they tried to familiarize one more with the progressive direction they took on this album, as the manner in which they incorporate it is so inconsistent and out of context. In fact, it is still difficult to grasp what exactly they were trying to do with that aspect of the album, as the “progressive direction” consists more of progressive parts than anything.
Reiterating the fact that Cosmogenesis consisted of a nearly brand new line-up for the band, it is impressive that they progressed as much as they did on this record, despite it being unfocused and forced at times. Perhaps, if Obscura had kept it simpler this would have been a much better record – the manner in which they embrace experimentation on this record is what makes it so difficult to enjoy. Imagining it without the cheesy prog parts and with Kummerer sticking to his lower register (the album could definitely do without his highs and clean vocals), already makes it sound like a better album. The bottom line is that making a different record than Cosmogenesis didn’t have to mean what Obscura did on Omnivium. It is obvious that they have the talent to create something greater than what they have thus far, but it seems like they still have a long way to go.