Review: Obscure Burial – Obscure Burial
When I think of death metal and Finland, I think of two things: the bass-heavy mysticism of bands like Demigod and the spitting filth of the many Carcass worshippers that hail from the nation. Obscure Burial completely eschew both in every possible way.How? By flaunting a dedication to the impure American scene instead; even their name is (presumably) a play on Sadistic Intent’s “Funerals Obscure.” The music is rooted in an evil worship of twisted Morbid Angel, Necrovore, and Possessed riffs, but with a distinctly personal touch; the songs on the eponymous Obscure Burial writhe through their durations in a way that’s all the touch of these mad Fins.
The most immediate feeling evoked by Obscure Burial is Azagthothian madness as sliding power chords carry big rhythms, occasionally punctuated by interplay with quick and often bizarre leads. At other sections swirling tremolo riffs whirl chaotically, often repeating short phrases far more than a lesser band could get away with to build horrific atmosphere in a way that not many bands manage. Fractured Necrovore riffs alternate between blazing blasts to being tempered with more slowly paced drumming than many bands would utilize with the same riffs to achieve enrapturing effect; indeed, much of Obscure Burial is slower than most people would likely expect given the audible influences that I’m describing, but the slower sections tend to sandwich more ripping ones, and work well enough on their own to be powerful rather than plodding. If anything, the variations in tempo help add places to latch onto, allowing something dark and twisted to still get caught in your head and remain catchy.
The drumming, which I briefly mentioned, is a great example of what happens when a talented drummer knows to avoid overplaying for the sake of atmosphere. He speeds up enough, at relevant times, to let you know that he’s there and capable of going fast, but in slower sections he tends to follow the tempo in a more restrained way that allows the aforementioned atmosphere to blossom. He stays heard with big crashes and tasteful cymbal hits that cut wonderfully through the mix, and has an absolutely lovely tone on all of his breakables.
My only real complaint about the drumming (which isn’t even really a drummer complaint so much as a production issue) is that the kick and toms get lost under the mix at the busiest parts of the guitarwork, leaving behind only snare, riffs, vocals, and the faintest hint of kick. The production, though nice enough sounding, is extremely guitar-biased, leaving little room for the bassist or drums at busier sections and making for an uneven listening experience when the drums nearly vanish and then pop back in thirty seconds later; additionally, though it may well be intentional rather than an issue, there are a couple of leads that don’t seem to have been mixed in with the rhythms evenly, popping up in a way that feels odd in the mix (though I can’t really verbalize why) before vanishing again (most notably, at the solo section in “Imago Mortis.” On the other hand, the vocal production is fantastic, with LK’s vocals howling over the mix at just the right volume to shred your soul; the guy’s snarl could peel skin, and when he starts to howl in earnest on a couple of tracks, it’s absolutely chilling.
Though I wrote a whole paragraph about production issues, I’m ultimately just quibbling; the production for the most part totally suits the music, and sounds great. The music itself also sounds great, and after three years without new material, Obscure Burial are back and ready to terrify new fans, more horrifying than ever. Overall, Obscure Burial is a massive improvement on the band’s demos, and I’m excited to see what Obscure Burial’s future holds.
Pre-order the album from Invictus Productions. Worship at their Facebook page here. Hail death.
Images courtesy of Obscure Burial.