Obscene
The Inhabitable Dark

I’m not really sure how I missed the release of The Inhabitable Dark, the debut full-length album from Obscene, Indiana’s purveyors of acidic old-school death metal, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t do just that.

In fact, it was actually my recent review of the 4 Doors to Death II split that made me aware of the band at all, as Obscene‘s vocalist, Kyle Shaw, lent his wildly torturous and pained vocal talents to a few tracks for Fetid Zombie‘s inclusion on said split. The man’s take of Martin Van Drunen (Pestilence/Asphyx/ Hail of Bullets) mixed with Chris Reifert (Autopsy) and  cranked to eleven, is for most, a love ’em or hate ’em type of  thing. Personally, I love ’em. The distressed and wounded howls Shaw emits are poignantly bloodcurdling as well as being seemingly capable of inducing a violent madness, much like nails being scraped on a chalkboard has the ability to do. While it doesn’t really sound very appealing, I can assure you that it works quite well, especially when paired with the late ’80’s/early ’90’s thrashing death metal mixture of the Netherlands and the good ol’ U. S. of A.

Ripping out of the gates from the get go, album opener, “Without Honor and Humanity” wastes zero time in getting down to whooping a little ass. Like a deadly combination of Possessed, Sadus, Obituary, and Asphyx, the track manages to do quite a bit of damage in under three minutes. Hell, they even throw in a classic screamin’ eagle divebomb; you know what I’m talking about, the soaring note bend that the likes of Kerry King, Rick Rozz, and Allen West like to begin and end their solos with, and a lot of the time would consider it a solo unto itself.

Much of the album’s seven remaining tracks play out in a similar fashion, as the band expertly weaves juxtaposing riffage of tremolo picking and slower engorged chords of crushing death, à la Asphyx or Hail of Bullets, or even Bolt Thrower, with a somewhat jaunty or thrashiness. While every track on The Inhabitable Dark stands shoulder to shoulder with one another in an extremely enjoyable presentation, it’s “Black Hole of Calcutta” and album closer and title track, “The Inhabitable Dark” that standout for me the most; probably because it is on these two songs that Obscene focus a bit more on the midpaced and slower moments than on any other of the album’s tracks.

It’s in these moments that the band really stands out and focuses on driving that heavy metal spike of riffage into your cranium in a most effective way. The former hitting like a Hail of Bullets styled panzer, rolling over and flattening your already bruised, battered, and bloody wartorn body, while the latter, and my favorite track of the album, is a spectacularly  solid crushing dirge of doom riddled death metal. A bit more ominous and moody in its slower main riffage, the song really is propelled by the ever driving and pummeling kick drums as much as the actual guitar riffs themselves. The track’s ending quickly morphs and fades into a simple, yet highly effective, piano outro that simultaneously, manages to be creepy and foreboding, as well as retaining just a hair of an attractive melody.

There’s no doubt that The Inhabitable Dark is quite the ripper. Granted, it does all start to bleed into itself by the album’s end, but at being just shy of thirty-three minutes in length, it doesn’t really factor into anything negative for the band or album.

While I’ve thrown around the names of Asphyx and Hail of Bullets a couple of times in this review, it is really in the sounds of Trenchrot and their sole full-length album, Necronomic Warfare, that Obscene reminds me the most of and tends to conjure up throughout the enitirety of The Inhabitable Dark. Of course to be fair and honest, it was Trenchrot who in turn was like a rawer little brother to the aformentioned Asphyx/Hail of Bullets/Bolt Thrower sound, and with three out of those four bands having split-up and called it quits, Obscene manages to find themselves in a most perfect spot to appeal and claim many of those band’s fans as their own. I know that they have got me on board, and I immensely look forward to seeing where the group goes from here.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
September 3rd, 2020

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