Obscura’s technical death skills have grown since Cosmogenesis, and we are all the better off for it. Having ex Pestilence and Necrophagist members in the band certainly is a very good way to go it seems. This is technical death metal at its best, German or otherwise. Omnivium has been described as Obscura refining their sound and though at times the melodic hooks may be less obvious than Cosmogenesis, Omnivium is still very accessible supremely skilled technical death metal. If you’re an Obscura fan you probably have this already, if not stop reading and go get it.
One thing that always impresses me about Obscura is the bass. The fact that they needed the likes of Steve DiGiorgio to tour with speaks volumes. Coming from Pestilence Jeroen Paul Thesseling is no step down at all, he continues the tradition of excellent bass, and it’s bass that is actually mixed correctly! Thesseling knows when to support and when he can go off the rails. Hannes Grossmann handles drums and as many remember from Necrophagist, he’s a monster behind the kit. He shows quite a bit of diversity on tracks like Prismal Dawn. Together Thesseling and Grossmann make a juggernaut of a rhythm section with is exactly what a band like Obscura needs underneath a far better than average couple of technical death guitarists. Christian Müenzner, also ex-Necrophagist, is an amazing musician who manages to have a firm grip on melody and avoid the “look what I can do” spastic school of shred guitar playing. As a point of interest I use the same effects processor as he does, but he is amazing and I am not very good; thus ending the debate on how important effects processors are. Steffen Kummerer handles vocals and guitars, and with music as complicated as Obscura’s that is a challenge. Omnivium is a bit different in that Kummerer uses some vocal effects and experiments more than he did on Cosmogenesis. There is no “Cher” moment or anything that’s embarrassing for band and listener alike, it’s subtle and tasteful. Kummerer manages to keep it all together even on somewhat dissonant tracks like the Velocity. There are some acoustic guitar parts this time around, but they are used sparingly and do not come off as gimmicky. They do lend to Kummerer’s ability to experiment vocally a bit. One interesting thing is that the instrumental closer, Concerto, really highlights the ties between technical death metal and classical music, to my non-classical music listening ears anyway.
Production on Omnivium is damn near perfect, the perfect example in how to engineer and master a technical death metal album. Omnivium strikes a balance between clarity and organic sound. All instruments are clear, from fretless bass to each drum hit, and each sounds great in its own right. This album does not tire you out when listening, nor is there a horror show like “St. Anger”, my reference for abysmal production, to be found. The fact that you can clearly hear everything even during the heaviest parts of a track like A Transcendental Serenade is testament to the quality of the recording, mixing and mastering.
Overall Omnivium is a case of the sum being greater than the parts, and when you consider the personnel you get an idea of just how well done this album is. If you have not picked this up already, go do it now. If you are generally not a fan of the tech genre, try it anyway, this one will surprise you.
- Vortex Omnivium
- Ocean Gateways
- Euclidean Elements
- Prismal Dawn
- Celestial Spheres
- A Transcendental Serenade