It has been around three years since we last heard new music from Obscura. Their previous release Akroasis garnished mixed reviews from fans. Yet, this current release Diluvium had me particularly interested. It's the final chapter in a series of four releases that are meant to be a conceptual circle. I am admittedly not the biggest Obscura fan, but I always found a place for them when I needed a progressive death metal fill. Akroasis, their previous release in 2015, was a solid album, but it failed to make a lasting impression. As an eight-track release, there were only three to four tracks that stood out; it felt underwhelming. As I listened to Diluvium, I ultimately returned to some of their older releases to see how their journey evolved.
Overall, Obscura is an extremely talented band. Their progressive style incorporates a lot of melodic tones and offers a unique blend other bands struggle to match. The bass has, and always will be, a staple in their songs. Bass solos and complex riffs are always a highlight when it comes to this band. It's obvious bands like Beyond Creation take notes from Obscura's excellent low end. It's also surprising the quality and musicianship the band continues to employ given how many members have come and gone through the lineup. The constant turnover in any band is bound to force some change or influence the flow of the music. It seems Obscura never lost its touch over the years though; Steffen Kummerer remains the glue needed to keep the band on point. He creates their special progressive death metal the fans enjoy.
With Diluvium, there are some interesting changes not obvious in their previous work. The songs are more structured, and many have a particular chorus or catchy section that repeats several times. This is evident in "Clandestine Stars," "Emergent Evolution," and "Mortification of the Vulga" where Obscura takes greater care in structuring intricate and catchy death metal riffs and grooves that carry melodic choruses to the next section of the song. Particularly in "Clandestine Stars" there was a neat odd-sounding vocal chorus reminiscent of Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation and his almost-digitized vocals on The Anthropocene Extinction. Unfortunately, Obscura only touched on this tactic and I found myself wanting more.
The melodic portions, which could also be described as progressive interludes, have a great sound. The combination of a high-speed technical approach with the melodic foundation made it seem the band has taken several large steps forward. The songs are easier to follow with the current structuring, the music seems more coherent rather than a chaotic technical metal mess, and the flow is undeniable. This release is the bands best to date. The melding of talented musicians has come to a point where all sections work excellent together.
Progressive death metal is an incredibly difficult sub-genre for a band to stand out in. Still, Obscura has and most likely will continue to be a good band. Their fifth full-length album, Diluvium, is some of their best work yet. However, to truly make the top the lists of those who enjoy the sub-genre, they still need to pull some more tricks.