Review: Blasphematory – Depths of the Obscurity
Sometimes, an album just hits at the center of your taste. It’s not often that something really nails me just on the basis of what it sounds like because unfortunately for me, most of my obsessions are pretty specific. In a strike of good luck, the always-reliable NVNM collective has started a band that hits me just right with Blasphematory’s Depths of the Obscurity, a crushing death metal album that does everything right and appeals to me on a deeply personal level.
The core sound of the album is downtuned, thick death metal a la Funebrarum or Disma, which is already a sound that just isn’t attempted often enough these days—trends have gone in other directions, and just by merit of their most obvious influences being ones that aren’t attempted often Blasphematory stand out. Their other most obvious feature is a tendency towards extraordinarily catchy lead guitar a la Demigod or Gorement that’s always played over heavy riffs instead of replacing them, granting the band a sense of melodicism and magic without compromising any of their rottenness.
I’ll happily admit that Depths of the Obscurity could be half the quality that it is and I’d love it just on the basis of what they sound like, because it’s something I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time trying to find—whether it’s in heavy metal, black metal, or death metal I’m eternally in love with big, catchy single-guitar lead melodies and heavy rhythms, and especially in death metal there’s just not enough of it out there in the style that Blasphematory do.
The style isn’t the only thing that stands out here, and the songwriting itself is top-notch, with each rotten riff being totally memorable, heavy, and the structure keeping a sense of momentum that a weaker album wouldn’t have. The melodies come in at perfect times, and never overstay their welcome; the album’s title track is the best example of their sound, bringing a great mixture of barking low growls, huge shifting riffs, and insanely ear-catching melodies that soar over the putrid guitarwork to pull together the song.
Most great albums are the product of more than just the guitarwork, and Depths is no exception. The drumming deserves a mention for being driving without being overpowering, and for always playing the perfect beat to lend either atmosphere or destruction to a riff as is necessary. Sometimes they sit a little low in the mix for my taste, or will hit on a high frequency that’s a little out there for me, but for the most part the drums are about as ideal as it gets for the style and the excellent production lets them shine without being under- or overpowering. NVNM have long been champions of a DIY approach and I’m honestly really impressed that they were able to do such a good job on their own with this album recording and production-wise; legions of would-be heavy bands on big labels never manage to sound a fraction as crushing as Depths of the Obscurity, which is really the last piece of a winning formula that makes the album a great listen from front to back over and over and over again.
Though Depths was originally a tape-only release via NVNM, it was picked up by Nuclear Winter Records for a CD release back in August, and vinyl is coming soon as well through the same label. It’s no mystery why Blasphematory was able to get picked up by such a venerable label as Nuclear Winter (which, if you’re unfamiliar, has long been one of the underground’s best-curated, least-trend-driven, and most interesting labels in the game), and I can only hope that the reissue drives them to greater fame and to release another album sooner rather than later.