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Just the other day, I was sifting through my CD library and pulled out Obscenity's Suffocated Truth CD and spun it with great delight. I've always loved these German connoisseurs of death metal. They've never really disappointed me with any of their releases since 1992, especially with the first two (Perversion Mankind being the second impossibly-located release). With 2012 coming to a close, Obscenity issues another chunk of decayed meat in Atrophied in Anguish through Apostasy Records.
So the first track begins much as all of Obscenity's albums do with discordant chords of fury with some truly volatile vocals spitting forth venomous anecdotal verses designed to really infect your head and muck up your day, in that order. “Erase the Divine” pretty much lets you know that the next 35-plus minutes are going to be a severe kick to the spine. Musically, Obscenity’s entire lineage is staunchly intact, with punishing riffs and disturbingly violent drumming to quell the rabid fan's thirst for bloody musical discharge. With the recent rash of deathcore bands doing everything inhumanly possible to destroy the proud history that is extreme metal music, when some of the past masters come around and slap down the minions it's always a fine experience. Atrophied in Anguish does this and then some.
Look, this record isn't going to make them a household name because, frankly, relative anonymity is part-and-parcel with this music, but you might find yourself seeking out the back catalog with some ferocious abandon (and good luck finding those first two CD's for less than $250 a pop!). These tracks are slabs of meat, well refined and tenderized, to gnaw on while pondering the future of the planet, or simply to enjoy some very solid death metal music from a formula long bastardized and trivialized. “Neurotic Frenzy” is one of the most ferocious tracks I've heard in some time that didn't have all sorts of medieval jargon, musical or lyrical, attached to it to make it seem so much more epic than it should. This is also evident in all of the other tracks on the record, especially “Hysterical Illusion”, which is about as old school German DM as it gets. That sick tremolo picking in between verses is everything about the genre that should be kept sacred. “All You Can Kill” sets the pace for the CD with its fast, unbridled hate literally oozing out of the amps. This track has really become my favorite on this CD; the way vocalist Jeff Rudes hisses the title is one of reasons Obscenity, at the 20-year mark, is still a classic underground unit from the other side of the Rhine.
Production-wise, Atrophied is a thick, accentuated collective that sounds about as good as you want it to while retaining that primitive vibe throughout. I have no complaints there. I keep thinking of how fast this music travels with such precision and still leaves an incredible impact on me after I've stopped the music, and that feels good! Death metal, contrary to popular layman's beliefs, is not meant to incite violence or rites of lashing out at a 'normal' public. It's designed to open the mind, cause moments of deep introspection, and, basely, to entertain the hell out of you with some of the most brutal musical notes the bands can assemble in somewhat orderly fashion. It's certainly not for everyone, right?
Good. Not everyone deserves such brutality at face value. But hey guys, how about some reissues of those first two albums for our younger friends in need of a fix?
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)
How the hell I missed this band over the last 20 years or so I have no idea and feel thoroughly ashamed of it too. Germany’s Obscenity is probably a familiar name to many but I wonder how many people have actually really listened to them. Their release rate has been relatively prolific with this album being number eight and offers direct riff bludgeoning death metal, but instead of resorting to the Swedeath style of slice and dice, these Germans prefer a more Floridian approach to their aural carnage. The production is truly colossal as the focus on driving riffs hits like an out of control jack hammer non stop. A short intro before “Erase The Divine” is unleashed with the ferocity of a rather annoyed Doberman, the speed is ultra-brutal with riffs arriving in swathes of unfettered primal violence.
The title track offers Malevolent Creation type sonic ruthlessness as the vocals dip down into Mr Corpsegrinder territory; pace is unbelievable. Why use a couple of riffs when you can use a handful as on “From Here To Depraved” which harnesses catchy drops in pace with a dynamic groove laden feast. As you get to “Perfect Pain” I put this album side by side with Cannibal Corpse’s “Torture” released earlier this year and honestly this wins hands down for sheer breathtaking song writing and musicianship. The calm start of “Perfect Pain” is infested with a mountain of double bass before Deicide blasting mayhem is slotted in. The lead work is also top rate here, slightly off character with the other songs. As with a lot of established death metal acts Obscenity’s view on production is focused on annihilating the listener with flawless execution and a supremely mixed but organic feel. This is a faultless display in death metal with “Diary Of A Scapegoat” balancing blindingly fast speed with catchy rhythms and beats. The closing tune, “Hysterical Illusion” had me scribbling Monstrosity with its impenetrable riffing and accompanying detonation. The riff break is accompanied by huge bomb blasts and a double kick follow through.
There are have been a great many top quality death metal releases in this year and this sits on top of this large pile with few parallels.
Originally written for www.rawnervezine.co.uk
I've got fond memories of picking up a few Obscenity records through the mid 90s, like Perversion Mankind and The 3rd Chapter. But, despite their position as one of the earliest of Germany's pure death exports, alongside groups like Atrocity, Lemming Project, Jumpin' Jesus, and Fleshcrawl, I wouldn't say they ever stood out to me as one of the more distinct artists in the field, and thus I took little interest in their turn of the century records releases such as Intense or Cold Blooded Murder. With Atrophied in Anguish, the band's 8th full-length overall and their first in six years, they prove yet again that they are one of the most 'total package' bands in their scene, implementing a number of techniques both brutal and old school to polish off an admittedly well rounded, riff-focused record that should prove worthwhile for purists of the medium.
To best describe their sound here, imagine a collision between Florida titans Deicide, Malevolent Creation and Morbid Angel with Dutch ancestry Sinister and Pestilence. The Germans adopt the typical pummeling and blasting traits when necessary, with loads of double bass, octave chords, faster death/thrash or melodic riffing sequences, and a nice balance between chugging breakdowns and outbreaks of unbridled velocity. There are a handful of newer members in the lineup this time up, including vocalist Jeff Rudes who has an efficient, if standard, ghastly growl that once again reminds me of the master Martin van Drunen, with a little of Corpsegrinder's low end timbre, though when they layer together the grunts and snarls they also evoke clear similarities to Glen Benton of Deicide. Nothing unusual or unexpected, to be sure, but I'll say that the guy's percussive patterns are a perfect mix for the battering, surgical semi-technicality of a track like "Swine to the Slaughter" or "Neurotic Frenzy", two of my favorites on the record. The storm-work of drummer Sascha Knust (who was with the band for their first decade and rejoined last year) is undeniable, and the leads are well developed (once again I'd point out "Neurotic Frenzy").
Most importantly, Atrophied in Anguish is a veritable riff-fest. Even if a lot of the note progressions sound samey to anyone schooled in the genre for the past two decades (or more), they still fire off a lot of nice muted picking sequences, and the constant variation between heavier grooves and brief tremolo patterns keeps the listener engaged. The production here is vocal and axe heavy, so you can really feel out every chop, but you can still discern the breadth of the bass and the acrobatic drumming alongside the thicker punch of the guitars. Though I earlier picked out a handful of the more frenetic and clinical/tech sounding tunes as particular highlights, the pacing and writing is actually quite consistent throughout, and ultimately, Obscenity have a record here which might well appeal to a large cross-section of the death metal populace, be they the brutal followers of Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and Severe Torture, early Floridians or those into the more intense scene out of California in recent years. Atrophied in Anguish is perhaps the band's most accomplished and formidable record to date, and I, for one, am pleased to see they're still chasing and clobbering that dream.
Veteran death metallers Obscenity could easily be considered one of the earliest German death metal bands, having formed all the way back in 1989 and over the course of their history releasing numerous albums. Atrophied in Anguish is the band’s 8th full length album, finally released after a rather long 6 year wait since their 2006 album Where Sinners Bleed. With the main German death metal exports being those leaning more towards the technical edge such as Necrophagist and Obscura, combined with the legacy of Obscenity themselves, expectations for Atrophied in Anguish are naturally high.
And the band wastes no time in tearing shit up, with Erase the Divine quickly injecting a dose of relentless death metal into the listener’s veins. Despite the brutal origins of Obscenity, the band on Atrophied in Anguish takes a rather melodic path at times, with riffing patterns sometimes being of a melodic qualities, ensuring that the album is not simply a slab of crushing concrete. This also includes some variation in the music, resulting in the album being rather unpredictable and interesting as well, unlike many others that have attempted to fuse melody and brutality but failed. The injection of melodic leads on the album has also ensured that the album doesn’t turn out to be just another album full of self-indulgent technical wankery and is definitely a nice touch. This especially so on Diary of a Scapegoat where the band suddenly breaks into a melodic and tear-jerking guitar solo segment, throwing the listener off-guard, yet extremely enjoyable at the same time.
However, their German roots are still rather present,evident from the technical and complex riffs that guitarists Hendrik and Christophe indulge themselves in, such as on the intro segment of All You Can Kill. And of course there are the soaring lead guitars that display the virtuosity and versatility of the guitarists, backed by the equally capable rhythmic section of bassist Jorg and drummer Sascha who not only comfortably and easily set the pace for the band, but also display their technical flair throughout the album. Furthermore, the band also constantly engages in sudden shifts in the tempo of the music, often at the least expected moments, yet somehow manage to keep that sense of rhythm, like on title track Atrophied in Anguish, which is perhaps one of the main highlights of the album, displaying not only the songwriting ability of the band but also the tightness with which the band plays in. Apart from that, the riffing style that are utilised throughout the album are also reminiscent of Floridian death metal, at times bringing to mind such bands as Morbid Angel, especially on tracks like Perfect Pain.
With Atrophied in Anguish, Obscenity has certainly more than proven their experience as a band that has dealt with extreme metal for more than 20 years. Though this album might not be up there in terms of brutality in comparison to the band’s earlier material, Atrophied in Anguish is certainly no less enjoyable, and is a rather interesting release.