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A Swarm of Useless Notes - 23%

Akerfeldt_Fanboi, August 8th, 2009

This album is like one of those bedroom guitarists that does nothing other play scales over and over again, and play some ridiculously fast licks about eighty or ninety times. While this guitarist usually goes nowhere, and never is in a band, Obscura managed to pull this off (all the while abusing the name of one of the greatest technical death metal albums ever), and get noticed.

If there's one thing I hate about modern death metal, it's that everything has to be so shiny and clean. Nothing can be dirty, down-to-earth, and overall evil or muffled. If there would be another thing to hate about modern metal, it's that everything has to be technical or you're not worth anything to the scene.

So, onto the music, and what do we have here? Over-polished, spotless, super "progressive technical" death metal, of course. Starting off with the virtually useless "Anticosmic Overload" we already have an idea of what this band is out to do. Play fast, technical, and mind-bendingly dull. Even the old bassist of legendary Pestilence, Jerone Paul-Thesseling or however you spell that, is playing stupidly boring tech tricks and supposed "jazz licks".

Next we have something scary, that surprised me, a good riff. "Choir of Spirits" actually starts off with a good riff, even though it's generally a Gorguts knockoff that eventually spindles off into another stupid blast section with growls thrown over the album. So far, this album isn't exactly pleasing to the ears.

So, the guitars of the album are exactly what you expect, technical riffs with a sort of feel that reminds of Death (especially the Death cover, Incarnated...oh what, that's an original?) and other old-school technical death metal bands that did this style right. Where Obscura are playing this hyper-tight riffing with uninspired drumming, bass, and vocals, Death was playing hyper-tight riffing under interesting production, bass lines, drumming, and especially vocals.

Speaking of vocals, this guy is sadly the highlight of the whole damn thing. His highs are really genuinely great, shrieky but mostly mid-ranged with a bit of grit. His lows are boring and monotonous, and of course, which vocal style does he perform more often? Yep, that's right, he does lows. Ugh. Oh, and the damn vocoder vocal on "Choir of Spirits" is just irritating, the whole band is ripping some Cynic riffing off right there, and then the vocals are even impersonating Paul. This guy won't ever shut up, either...and the only time when he does in fact shut his trap, it's on the song that would have needed vocals the most, "Orbital Elements".

The guitars, the bass, and the drums are all easily relatable to three metal albums: Gorguts's "Obscura", Death's "Individual Thought Patterns", and Cynic's "Focus". Every instrument permeates a need to copy, imitate, and virtually copy everything played on those three albums, but also with some interesting ideas on their own...no, not really. Every solo, every riff (from the biggest rip in metal history, Incarnated, to Choir of Spirits' opening riff) is stolen, it's quite obnoxious really.

I wish I had more to say about this album, but I couldn't get past the fourth song without getting a small headache and contracting boredom. But, wait; there is one song here that is actually good. It surprised me, almost terrified me, that Orbital Elements is a good song. Starting off with what sounds like Cynic's "Textures" stupefied, we have a decent intro riff, which then leads into a good riff around the one minute mark, and continues into another Gorguts riff, but with less interesting ideas. So, what we have here is a good song gone wrong.

So, this album is an over-done pile of rip-off artistry. Sure, there is guitar-"wizardry" everywhere, and the album has a very proficient set of musicians, they can't write songs worth their lives without looking at the Atheist, Gorguts, or Cynic posters in their rooms. So, that's it. I recommend this only to those who are obsessed with production, technical stupidity, or a vocalist who won't shut the fuck up.