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Meat and potatoes, cooked to perfection - 88%

enigmatech, January 22nd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Apostasy Records

Obscenity are a long-running German death metal institution - with 30 years and 10 albums under their belt, their legacy should really speak for itself. Still, along with their countrymates Fleshcrawl, I never felt that Obscenity really got the respect they were due. Not only has the band been slugging away in the underground for all these years, but they managed to somehow do it without ever compromising their sound or following modern trends. Their catalog is remarkably consistent, and lacks the embarrassing death 'n' roll missteps or groove-laden trendhopping of many of their peers. Of course, some will perhaps be bored or turned by Obscenity's very meat-and-potatoes approach to death metal, but that's exactly what pulls me in. Experimentalism and artistic progression is fine, but to me death metal's a little like the blues at the end of the day - it's all about the feel for me - if it's done well, that's almost all you need, and by extension I'm more impressed by a band that's able to sound vital and invigorated (especially after 30 years) with only the bare essentials of what defines the genre, than one who needs to throw in superficial bullshit to appease the jaded and arrogant hipsters of the metal scene.

So all that comes around to this album, Summoning the Circle. On the surface, there is nothing out of the ordinary. It's yet another Obscenity album full of catchy, chunky riffs that evoke the glory days of Deicide and Cannibal Corpse (album opener "Used and Abused") - melodic, soaring guitar leads that are very emotional, yet tasteful enough that it doesn't detract from the brutality (the incredible "Invocation Obscure"), deep, powerful death growls courtesy of December Flower's Marcus Siewert that sound like they could level a building alone (really any track on the album, but the vocal performance in "The Ones Concerned" really stood out to me). But what really makes it stand out for me is the execution. Simply put, the songwriting and overall arrangement here is fantastic, as well...listen to "Infernal Warfare" - very intense track, due in no small part to the way the riffs weave in and out, managing to build upon each other without losing any impact. Everything flows perfectly and feels like it needs to be there to benefit the bigger picture.

There's also a nice variety in speed and pace, just take a look at the album's closer "Let Her Bleed" which begins with a slow, crushing intro which leads into a Deicide-style triplet verse - before launching into a full-on blast beat section...all in under a minute. I think what really impresses me about all this, is that it doesn't feel contrived or forced - it's honestly not something you'll even notice on first glance, which is always a good thing in my book. This album also features some really nice production - especially for modern standards. I already mentioned how incredible and brutal the vocals sound over the music, but the guitar tones are very meaty and have just enough weight to capture the riffs, the drums sound excellent (I particularly loved the snare tone), and even the bass (which naturally sits sandwiched between the guitars and drums, but has a nice clear tone that adds a lot of weight and heaviness to the overall presentation). It all sounds fantastic, clear and well-deined, yet at the same time very natural and organic - there's nothing fake or computerized about this recording.

All in all, Obscenity have proven once again that after 30 years, they've not only still got it, but and have mastered the art of death metal. I can hardly name any 30-years-running death metal juggernaut that still sounds this fresh and invigorated so far into their career, either in the underground or mainstream. I highly recommend this album to anyone who loves a straight-forward blast of death metal, but is also able to appreciate the finesse and talent it takes to craft and perfect this kind of no-frills, no-bullshit music.