Obscura
Akróasis

Every few years a album comes along that changes the game in tech death. Going back to this band’s namesake with Gorgut’s Obscura, Death’s seminal latter output, Origin, Atheist, Cynic, Necrophagist, Theory In Practice’s Colonizing the Sun, the Canadian scene, Gorod and others. And here is another one, in Obscura’s fourth effort Akróasis.

These Germans are far from new comers  and certainly have their own mark on the scene with two stellar albums in 2009s Cosmogenesis and 2011s Omnivium, both being heralded as tech death masterpieces at the time and replacing Necrophagist as Germany’s top echelon tech death out fit . But there has been some changes in the last 5 years since Omnivium. Christian Munzer (of Necrophagist fame), drummer Hannes Grossman and fretless bassist Jeron Paul Thesseling (ex Pestilence) are all gone, which left Steffan Kummerer to fill some pretty big shoes. And their replacements certainly have done and admiral job. New comers Linus Klausenitzer (fretless bass-who joined in 2011 after Omnivium), drummer Sebastian Lanser and guitarist Raphael Trujillo, all relative newcomers, have contributed to Obscura in ways that I wound never have imaged when losing such an amount of talent.

Klausenitzer is credited  with some of the song writing on Akróasis,  but these new folks have invigorated Kummerer and the band resulting in an album that takes the already heralded Obscura to whole new levels. Sure, the back bone is still the noodly, fretless bass  Testimony of the Ancients/Spheres era Pestilence twang and skillful, artful twisty riffs, which some at this point have termed forgetful or soulless, or skill over memorability. But Obscura have always been one of the few bands that can take those elements and make them memorable, and even like Gorod, even playful. But on Akróasis  things are simply on a whole other plane. The skill and virtuosity of all the players is still present, but the level of experimentation and progressive daring has been heightened and adds to the already stunning tech death visage.

To the point where it’s almost impossible to put into words, Akróasis  has done to tech death what Between the Buried and Me did to deathcore/metalcore back in 2015 with Alaska (acute listeners might even pick up on a couple of BTBAM moments like “Ten Sepiroth”). They have taken tech death metal, made it a viable commercial entity but kept it within the genres confines, just listen to “Perpetual Infinity”. The nuances and developments are subtle and often not tangible, but something you can only feel.  Whether it’s the fretless intensity of the title track, the clean female choirs in my personal favorite “Ode to the Sun”, the delicate acoustic segue  of “Fractal Dimension”, the occasional use of Cynic-ish robotic vocals  or a simple yet complex series of moment strung together to form  something special. Again I point you back to “Perpetual Infinity”, where the tech side is so  masterful ingrained in layers of things like gang chants, vocoded vocals, jazzy refrains and a catchy main riff. It’s simply sublime.

The 15 minute closer “Weltseele” is the track that’s going to divide fans a bit. While on one side it’s a daring, expansive track that more extreme prog metal or space metal opera than tech death , containing stirring strings, a spoken word monologue, and a dearth of time changes, instrumental moments, atmospheres and tempos. On the other side, it’s an envelope pushing daring take on tech death metal that could set the standard for the genre in years to come.

Akróasis  is clearly going to be one of the best albums of 2016, if not a new classic up there with the likes of Unquestionable Presence and Individual Thought Patterns in a few years as a revered, seminal album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 29th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: Allred

    Nice review…I dig this album a lot, definitely some good stuff. Love the bonus track, “On the Origin of Primal Expression”, a bit plagiaristic of Death’s Voice of the Soul & the outro of Perennial Quest, but awesome none-the-less… I saw this album catching some flak elsewhere, and I just couldn’t understand why…


  2. Commented by: Gozer666

    Can’t help but notice in the video, the bass player isn’t playing a fretless bass.


  3. Commented by: Kevin E.

    Awesome musicianship, but he vocals are flat out terrible. Way too weak and high pitched for this type of music and really takes away from the sound.


  4. Commented by: Austin

    Just so you know….”guitarist Raphael Trujillo” was added after the album was recorded. He does not appear on the album. The 2nd guitarist on the record was Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager on fretted/fretless guitar. And he wrote “Weltseele” with Linus. And helped write parts of other songs.


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