Voyaging the vast terrains of extreme metal since 2002, Germany’s Obscura have ventured far beyond inhabited soundscapes into designing and developing a musical realm that is all their own. A realm that continues to flourish with as much classical elegance as it does sonic force, resulting in a sound that wholly transcends the death metal traditions that support the band’s musical foundation.

Obscura have become known for converting complex ideas, many absorbed from German philosophers, into maze-like song structures by means of cutting edge riffcraft, fretless bass finesse, high-powered percussion, and an all-around firm grasp on music theory. What began as a more brutal, prog-death inspired thrill ride with the band’s debut demo, Illegimitation, on through their first full-length Retribution, amassed into a mind-bending, four album concept series: Cosmogenesis, Omnivium, Akróasis, and Diluvium

Now, the time has come for a rebirth so to speak. On their Nuclear Blast Records debut, A Valediction, Obscura shifts their overtly technical tactics and exploration of philosophical concepts to accentuate more humanistic qualities within their sound. Rerouting inward, guitarist and vocalist Steffen Kummerer, communicates feelings from a personal perspective, as opposed to a theoretical point of view.

On the instrumental side of things, the band forge more traditional metal-leaning compositions, brimming with melo-death inspiration. I see A Valediction sharing more in common with an At The Gates, Children Of Bodom, In Flames (old), or Hypocrisy record, then with a Necrophagist or Vader record.

The result offers a warm and embracing atmosphere that resonates with a vibrant and natural sounding production quality. Obscura takes the opportunity to peel back some of the progressive layers they’ve constructed over the years, to reveal a more vulnerable version of themselves, both lyrically and musically. A Valediction represents the band’s most emotionally immersive material to date, gripping listeners with its heartfelt, melody-driven listening experience.

As approachable as the latest full-length is, it wouldn’t be an Obscura record without the band’s perplexing technical flare, astonishing guitar leads, and forward-thinking song enhancements. 

The tenderhearted, acoustic build up in the opening epic “Forsaken” unfolds into a detailed, seven minute roller coaster ride that encapsulates Obscura’s departure from Diluvium. Familiar celestial voice modulation and a slew of shredding pave the way for the sparkling leads that fire off throughout “Solaris.” Obscura employs an upbeat tempo, twisting and turning through sweeping leads and slithering bass lines to introduce the self-titled ripper, “A Valediction.” 

Upgrading old-school principles and striking with melodic force, comes the powerful “When Stars Collide.” This track marks an emotive shift in Obscura’s sound, utilizing the soaring vocals of Soilwork/The Night Flight Orchestra frontman Björn Strid to generate one colossal, uplifting chorus. In contrast, the band reveals their brutal roots, cracking the earth wide open in the chasmal and utterly heavy offering, “Devoured Usurper.”

Gravitating towards the Cosmogenesis-esque days of precision comes the dexterous tricks that weave together “The Beyond” and “Orbital Elements II.” Obscura unravels their classically-infused, string superiority to create playful riffs that bear a resemblance to Megadeth’s “Hangar 18,” of course with the band’s signature twist.

As A Valediction nears its end, standout track “In Adversity,” to me, presents itself almost as if an unspoken homage to the unforgettable Alexi Laiho of Children Of Bodom (RIP). The guitar-centric track comes equipped with adventurous leads and plenty of CoB-natured flare. A speedy, yet alluring track that pulls listeners into the powerful, ominous closer, “Heritage.” 

A Valediction represents a farewell for Obscura in a lot of ways, but also contains a collection of the band’s most vibrant and emotive material heard on record. With Diluvium, we saw Obscura audibly depict an apocalyptic world through the use of darkened musical elements and catastrophic overtones. A Valediction feels like a warm renewal of life, utilizing metal music’s best songwriting traditions to produce the band’s richest songs to date.

Purchase A Valediction here.

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