Sanity Obscure
Subterranean Constellation

It’s often an odd and amusing circumstance when one receives an album from a band and when it’s popped into the stereo (or iTunes), it sounds nothing like you’d expect. The band has completely altered its sound, approach and logo like it’s an entirely new band. Then it hits you: this is a different band sharing the same name. Oops!

Such is the case with Sanity Obscure, a relatively new technical metal band from Singapore. Not to be confused the with gothic/doom band from Germany (hence the monumental curveball thrown) or even the old Believer album that shares its namesake. Nope, this is a newish band in the fold of the ever-growing tech death scene, but these cats might actually have more staying power than their fret-fondling brethren. And considering this is their first full-length (they released the Dethrone the King EP in 2008), the music is even more impressive.

The reason is quite simple, too, because Sanity Obscure never go overboard with their technical prowess and don’t go off into the deep end where they become overly technical for the sake of being overly technical. And they’re not of the usually mundane, sleep-inducing brutal tech death variety where it’s non-stop brutality and technique that goes absolutely nowhere.

Instead, Sanity Obscure play a more compact, much catchier version of tech metal more along the lines of classic Coroner or Cynic when they were great (see: the early 1990s demos) and some hidden hints of Atheist and latter Death. Granted, the music found on Subterranean Constellation isn’t as mind-blowing or legendary as the crown jewels found on Symbolic, Piece of Time, No More Color or Demo ’91. However, this quartet knows how to capture the pure essence of creativity and ability and turning them into actual songs with genuine feeling and energy. The riffs are super tight and complex in many spots, as is the bass and drums, but like the best of the golden era of technical metal, there are plenty of grooves and simplistic elements to coalesce with the finesse and dexterity woven into each sonic tapestry.

Subterranean Constellation kicks in with Rise of the Machines after the rather ho-hum intro Dreams-Manifestations, and it’s evident immediately that Sanity Obscure is onto something with their approach and delivery. While the chorus of Incarceration Divine is a little on the hokey side, the Singaporeans continue to hammer out catchy, thrashy tunes like Patient Zero, Hyperboreas and Doublethink. There isn’t a dud on the album and considering the eight songs run through in under 25 minutes, it ends almost as soon as it begins.

Is Subterranean Constellation breaking any new barriers or turning the technical metal genre on its head? No. However, what they have going for them is a style that is a throwback to when “technical metal” as a term didn’t even exist. Fans of the best albums from Coroner and pre-Focus Cynic will eat this up in droves. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another four years for these guys to release a follow-up.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mike Sloan
September 20th, 2012


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