Obscura - OMNIVIUM

I love progressive death metal. I love the intricate drum work, I love the often-causeless guitar gymnastics and I love the angular melodies that are associated with this quixotic subgenre. In my eyes, Obscura is the best progressive death metal band on the planet. 2009's Cosmogenesis was my pick for Album of the Year. It didn't just blow me away; it courted me, paid for my dinner and spackled the walls of my vagina. It's that good. Needless to say, I waited for the follow-up with eager anticipation. Well, it's here in the form of Omnivium, a 9-track discursion of instrumental trigonometry. Does it deliver the goods?

Mostly. To be honest with you, this album never could have surpassed my expectations. Cosmogenesis floored me with such conviction, that I approached Omnivium like a born-again Christian would approach The Holy Ghost. In fact, I thought I heard a choir of angels in the background when it arrived in the mail. I can safely say that if you dug the first two Obscura records, then you'll dig this one. It's not as immediate as Cosmogenesis, but you could argue that it's more epic. And that might be where this long player skids off course. It tries to be the Master of Puppets of progressive death metal. I mean, it's so fucking huge, that it asphyxiates under its own astronomical weight.

But of course, there are several songs that will turn your head and mollify your ears. "Vortex Omnivium" is a blast-ridden squall that speeds past your skull with the force of a cataclysmic cyclone. That sentence doesn't do the riffs justice. Trust me. Attempting to describe these passages with mere words is almost insulting to the band members, especially when you consider that I'm a dunderhead when it comes to musical jargon. Take this next statement, for example. "Ocean Gateways" is badass. It's heavier than Kevin Smith's gallbladder. To put it in more literate terms, this tune is worth noting for its slothful tempo. It's categorically doomy, which is something that you can't say about the rest of Obscura's catalogue.

The guitar solo in "Velocity" - a guest spot credited to Dark Fortress frontman Morean - is inhuman. I refuse to believe that it was played by a human being. Hell, I refuse to believe that everything on Omnivium was played by human beings. The second half of the album does lose steam. I keep hoping to hear a vocal line or a drum fill that grabs me with each successive spin, but at some point, I'll have to admit to myself that I simply prefer the opening bombardment of symphonic intensity. It's not that I dislike the last couple of songs; they just don't...spackle the walls of my vagina. If you're new to Obscura, start with Cosmogenesis. In time, you'll probably find a home in your record collection for Omnivium as well. These men would make Chuck Schuldiner proud.

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