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This album is a prime example of why technical death metal is superior to most other metal genres. That's normally not something I would say, considering most tech death bands (like Brain Drill) are just over-the-top and annoying with their technicality, and others just aren't heavy or interesting (like Decrepit Birth). But every once in a while, a really, really great tech death band will come along and blow my mind. So far, those bands have been Deeds of Flesh, Abysmal Dawn, The Faceless (post-Akeldama), and now Obscura. Cosmogenesis is Obscura's second full-length album, released last year on Relapse Records, and... wow. Just...
The album starts off with "The Anticosmic Overload", probably one of the weakest songs on the album, yet still awesome, and yet it's the only song a video was made for... don't see how that works, but... I supposed it worked. It was (don't get me wrong) a great start to the album, but nothing particularly stands out about it, aside from the bass (which I'll delve into here in a moment). The riffs and solos here are great and prove this song to be a very nice appetizer for the meal that awaits. After the next song we come to "Universe Momentum", one of the better songs on the record, one that brings in quite a bit of random acoustic moments, which, upon mixed with the bass, sound very jazzy, and at other times remind me of Stormblast-era Dimmu Borgir, minus the black metal vocals. Overall, an awesome fucking song, one of the highlights of the album. Next up, we have "Incarnated". This is my personal favorite song on the album, but I'll talk more about it later, because a great deal of it revolves around the bass guitar. Right now, I'll just say that "Incarnated" is very dark and atmospheric, and flows quite nicely in with the next track, "Orbital Elements". This song is an instrumental that is very reminiscent of "The Call of Ktulu" by Metallica, which isn't a bad thing. Pretty much, you mix elements of "The Call of Ktulu", a little bit of "Hundred Wrathful Deities", (the Evile song released the same year), and a lot of Planetary Duality-era The Faceless, and you get "Orbital Elements". This is one of those tracks that stands out from the others. Skipping over "Desolate Spheres", we get to see the vocoder again in the songs "Infinite Rotation" and "Nospheres". "Nospheres" is one song that shows a slower, darker side to the album, (not that it wasn't already dark). Next, we come to the title track, which is probably the heaviest song here. It's not particularly "heavy", but it does incorporate more chugging riffs that'll get your head banging. Very awesome song. Finally, we come to another highlight of the album, the closing song, "Centric Flow". This song is actually pretty weak (once again, nothing really wrong with it, just nothing that really stands out), up until the halfway point, when it starts getting really amazing. That's around the time when the melody begins to kick in, and we hear an almost... well... I hate to say this when it comes to metal, but... a beautiful acoustic and melodic solo section, very reminicient of "Perennial Quest" from Death. After this we come to another melodic riff, in which we can hear the vocalist rasp "THIS IS... THIS IS... THIS IS THE CENTRIC FLOW!", in a way that sent a chill down my spine. An amazing end to an amazing album.
One of the things that turned me on to this band (and ultimately this album) was the video for "The Anticosmic Overload", in which I witnessed something I had never seen before... a bassist who uses a 6-string fretless bass. A special bass that can be heard throughout the album, (that's right, you can hear the bass throughout 100% of the album), and gives Obscura an awesome style that so far hasn't been topped by any other band I've heard. For a fretless bass, I'm astounded at how extremely well the bassist plays it. Flawlessly. Perfectly. And it sounds purely incredible. The single-most awesome song on the album (made awesome by the bass and the riffs), is "Incarnated", a song that has a melodic edge to it, but a dark verse that features what is probably the coolest bass pattern in any metal song period. The bass goes a completely different route than the guitar, creating a mesmerizing, definitely Area 51 themed sound. It's pretty awesome to experience. We're dealing with one of the most talented bassists in metal here. We should be honored.
Now I'll shut up about the bass already and move on to the guitars themselves. The great production plays a key part here, as every single note is perfectly audible. The guitarists here aren't just playing around. They know what they're doing and why they're doing it. You can go from a faster, more technical side, such as in "The Anticosmic Overload" and "Desolate Spheres", to a slower, heavier, more dark, mystic side, in songs like "Nospheres" and the title track "Cosmogenesis". Of couse, as I've mentioned before, there are plenty of acoustic, jazzy, and creepy interludes like those in "Universe Momentum" and "Infinite Rotation". The riffs and solos throughout the album are incredible, but I'd have to say the most memorable is the last half of "Centric Flow", obviously the most melodic, phenomenal moments on this record.
I'm not much of a drumming expert, but I will say that the drummer knows what to do when. Of course, this is a key factor to all forms of metal, when to play fast, when to slow down, when to build up, and when to go all out crazy. This guy knows what he's doing, along with the rest of the band.
And finally, I want to briefly talk about the vocals. Throughout the record you'll hear a wide range of vocal styles, ranging from an almost black metal rasp that reminds me of David Vincent on the first two Morbid Angel albums, to a Symbolic-era Chuck Shuldiner style. His lows remind me very much of Demon Carcass from The Faceless in their album Planetary Duality, as do the vocoder sections in "Choir of Spirits" and "Nospheres", the latter having a vocoder outtro that sounds very much like the outtro to "The Ancient Covenant" by The Faceless. At some points, he'll even use a clean vocal style (no, don't worry, nothing even remotely like the screamo clean vocals that sound like they haven't gone through puberty yet), these clean vox sound matured and very fitting with the music, just adding to the pure amazing-ness that is this album.
Highlights: The whole thing, really. The only songs that aren't up there with the rest are "Choir of Spirits" and "Desolate Spheres", and even those songs are fucking awesome. The record gets a well-deserved 100%, and plenty of future listens.
In my opinion, this album sounds like a mix between The Faceless' 2008 album Planetary Duality and Death's 1995 album Symbolic. And to me, this album is right up-to-par with Symbolic as one of the best metal albums ever written. I know that may be a bit of an overstatement to some, but... just go buy it and give it a listen. You'll know what I mean.