29 March 2011
by Tom Dare
Where the hell do you start with a record like Omnivium? Trying to describe a record as diverse, dynamic and fluctuant as this, Obscura‘s third album, is almost certain not to do it justice, but as a start there is just one thing that needs to be cleared up straight off the bat:
It’s absolutely fucking deranged.
Lunatic jazzy progression exists alongside coherent melody and juddering brutality. Full-throated barbaric roar inhabits the same world as pitch-modulated sci-fi monster growls and beautiful singing. Spacey atmospherics live alongside shred, and if you’ve got any clue what the bloody hell is going on in early listens, the chances are you’re actually in Obscura and wrote some of the music. But while it is more than a tad impenetrable at first, there are a few moments that are so instantly memorable – such as the totally inhuman vocal noises in ‘Ocean Gateways‘ or the truly ecstatic climax of ‘Celestial Spheres‘ – that the mind begins to pick apart the complexity to expose the genuine wonder taking place.
While it may not be immediately comprehensible, the chaotic violence of the music still allows enjoyment; if you like metal that feels like it wants to kick you in the gut, Omnivium will have you ensnared and engaged even before you decipher proceedings. It’s at that moment that this record blossoms – the seeds sewn grow up the trellis the tangible passages construct, and the utter maniacal genius flowers into glorious splendour. Sounding like the crackpot grandchild of Schuldiner, Amott, and Akerfeldt, Omnivium brings to mind a transcendental odyssey up through different strata of the heavens, at times being terrified and tortured by the vast power visible and at others exalted with awe.
Listen to ‘Septuagint’ by Obscura:
In more tangible terms, the roiling riffs have you headbanging in preposterous rhythms, the sumptuous lead lines will have you reaching for your air guitar and, whether unleashing inhuman noises or gorgeous singing, somehow destroying your larynx to the utterly compelling vocals. Omnivium may be all kinds of crazy and have an otherworldly atmosphere, but it still feels told from a comprehensible human perspective. Obscura have delivered an absolute rip-snorter of an a record in this, achieving the brutal and the beautiful, the intricate and the anthemic. The tale may need a telling or two to get to grips with, but after that the emotional heart comes across entirely with no beard-fondling in sight.
Sounds like: Human-era Death, Atheist, Ihsahn
Top tracks: Septuagint, Celestial Spheres, Aevum
Obscura – Omnivium tracklisting:
A Transcendental Serenade