If you have ever seen Obscura live, you will know that a live album needs to be on the dot to represent the technical artistry the Germans bring on stage. Over 20 years into their career, this album, despite the splicing together of tracks from a variety of shows captured across the USA, Canada and Mexico, is a sonically blistering representation of the band in all their raw glory.
Obscura – A Celebration I – Live in North America (Nuclear Blast Records)
Release Date: 27 October 2023
Words: Paul Hutchings
Recorded on the A Valediction World Tour between 2022 and 2023, this release draws from songs across their discography. Over 55 minutes, the band’s explosive style and delivery is perfectly demonstrated. The rapid-fire opening of Forsaken, one of three that feature from A Valediction, is the perfect introduction to the release. As the album develops, we experience deep cuts as Obscura trawls five of their six albums. Only 2006’s Retribution is left out.
There are fan favourites, of course, with the splendid Ode To The Sun one of many highlights scattered here. The musicianship is, as expected, splendid from start to finish, with the combination of intricate patterns, multiple time changes, incredible blast beats and Steffen Kummerer’s vocal prowess making it addictive stuff. The soaring lead breaks bring an unworldly sci-fi feel to songs, a soaring soundscape that both mesmerises and batters the body at the same time.
The band shifts through the cosmos with an ease that is incredibly impressive. The roars that great the gentle introduction of Septuagint are amazing, the crowd feverish, unlike the UK approach, which was often to stand back, admire the technical brilliance, and let the music flow over you. Not here, as you imagine ferocious pits swirling around venues.
And yet, the Germans can take their foot off the brake at times, as is seen during the seven-and-a-half-minute workout. Punishing mid-sections race along, but when the flesh stops peeling from the face, you realise that there lurks ample melody and crafted passages that provide respite from the frenetic onslaught that is racing through the speakers.
Underneath all the technical prowess lurks a Progressive Death Metal outfit of the highest order. Brutality is never far from the surface, often bubbling over in powerful bursts that erupt with scalding hot pace. A Valediction itself is a phenomenally impressive song, the sheer bludgeoning merged with a healthy dose of melody, which is delivered at breakneck speed.
Penultimate song Ocean Elements II is stunning. A four-and-a-half-minute instrumental that showcases the band’s quality, it’s simply breathtaking, with the fretless bass of Jeron Paul Thesseling in total harmony with the powerhouse drumming of David Diepold, which paves the way for the dual guitar work of Kummerer and Christian Münzer. If this track doesn’t move you then there is something quite wrong.
Live albums are often a challenge. It’s difficult to capture the experience, the smell, and the excitement that is so much a part of a live show. It may not quite do that, but there is no doubt that this collection of tracks is the ideal introduction for new fans, whilst older veterans will no doubt warm to the band’s first live album since their formation in 2002.
Catch Obscura live as they embark on an extensive Latin America tour, followed by another extensive run through the UK with Nuclear Blast Records labelmates Decapitated.
Tickets are available from here.
Latin America Dates
28.10. ARG Buenos Aires – Uniclub
29.10. BR Sao Paulo – Carioca Club
31.10. CHL Santiago – Teatro Cariola
02.11. PER Lima – Teatro Cantaro
04.11. COL Bogota – Ace Of Spades
05.11. HND Tegucigalpa – Radio house Casa Campo
07.11. GTM Guatemala City – Rock ‘ol Vuh
08.11. SLV San Salvador – Café Catedral
09.11. CRI San José – Pepper’s
11.11. MX Monterrey – Mexico Metal Fest