Who else thought Obscura was dead in the water after losing both guitarist Christian Muenzner and drummer Hannes Grossmann? I know I did. If you also consider that the bassist on their last album was the great Jeroen Paul Thesseling who left right after “Omnivium” was completed, the band was essentially mainman Steffen Kummerer. Add on that Thesseling’s replacement, Linus Klausenitzer, was joining Muenzner and Grossmann in their new band Alkaloid. It seemed pretty bleak for Obscura. But then again, this isn’t new for Obscura anyway!
Klausenitzer didn’t leave Obscura but decided to play in both bands. Drummer Sebastian Lanser and guitarist Tom Geldschläger were hired and Kummerer had reassembled the band once again. To be fair, he has been the one constant in the band, so I should not have been worried to start with. With the new album “Akróasis,” Kummerer has proven once and for all that he is the force that drives this band. Of course, in true Obscura fashion Geldschläger left after the album was recorded and has already been replaced by Rafael Trujillo!
So how good is “Akróasis” anyway? To be quite honest, it is the best album that Obscura have done to date. It continues the upward trajectory that they have been on and somehow improves upon what they did on “Omnivium.” The songs are still heavy but they are even more complex, yet playing itself is more melodic than ever as well. It also has “Weltseele” which is a massive 15 minute epic with a string section. That song alone makes this album worthwhile!
The album starts with the relentless “Sermon of the Seven Suns.” It’s classic Obscura with some excellent fretless bass from Klausenitzer about three minutes in when the song begins to evolve and grow. The track has everything: solos galore, the aforementioned bass playing and awesome double bass drumming from Lanser. “The Monist” is seemingly pure death metal when it starts but it really feels like a track Cynic could have done, right down to the “synthetic vocals” in the track.
Another track I really love is “Ten Sepiroth” which has a really nice middle section with more fretless bass and some beautiful acoustic guitar. The one thing that stands out to me on “Akróasis” is that no matter how heavy and brutal the album is (and it is), it has many section that are absolutely beautiful sounding. It’s this perfect dichotomy. The choir on “Ode to the Sun” stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I heard it. This is clearly a band that is capable of still growing, even after all these years.
“Perpetual Infinity” reinforces the old school Cynic vibe with some vocoder laden vocals to start and end the track. Another highlight of this track is the dual leads in middle of it. And as I mentioned there’s an epic! “Weltseele” has everything, not the least of which is a string ensemble in the middle of track followed by spoken word over some beautiful guitar. After that, the band kicks back in with the ensemble in tow. It’s pretty hard to describe this song and needs to be heard to be fully appreciated. Words do it no justice.
“Akróasis” proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Obscura are still very much at the forefront of progressive death metal. They have evolved beyond being just another tech death band. “Akróasis” should be on many best of 2016 lists. I am sure it will be on mine!
1. Sermon of the Seven Suns
2. The Monist
4. Ten Sepiroth
5. Ode to the Sun
6. Fractal Dimension
7. Perpetual Infinity