Seriously. I love sifting through the desert sands of the Middle East, tipping back a pint in a British tavern, trekking through the jungles of South America . . . all in the effort to find some unique piece of music that will yank me out of the doldrums of everyday life. On my latest journey, I found my way to Bergen, Norway to listen to a band simply called Obscure. Before I go further, I’d like to thank my guides for this expedition, Vulture Industries (another fabulous band that you’ll need to checkout), for pointing me in the right direction and making sure I didn’t get lost along the way.
Imagine for a moment, the metal intensity of Dianno era Iron Maiden mixed with the psychedelic doom and gloominess of classic Black Sabbath. That’s the best way that I can describe Obscure. A wall of dirge rock noise pierced by the melodic wail of harmonized guitars and Halford-esque vocals. Based on past experiences, I expected On Formaldehyde to be just another black metal/death metal offering, but thankfully I was mistaken and I received a much needed jolt of refreshing music.
“Conversensation” and “Veins of Steel” are straight ahead rockers in a NWOBHM fashion. They’ll have you running to your closet to dust off your finest denim and leather, pulling your Motorhead t-shirt out of mothballs, and have you striking a pose next to your Camero or GTO. They’ve got that old school metal feel and would fit well between your Tygers of Pan Tang and Angel Witch albums. Classic angst ridden, tension filled rock . . . gotta’ love it!
The rest of the album, however, takes a darker, broodier, and sometimes psychedelic turn. “Abra Macabra” takes a page directly from any of the Ozzy era Sabbath with it’s detuned menacing groove. The vocals howl over the verses before crooning through a surprisingly melodic chorus. The most compelling part of the song, though, is the musical break at the midway point. It just adds that extra layer of intrigue as it’s completely different than anything that we’ve heard up to this point on the album. That psychedelic vibe carries through to the next track, “Fragments.” Swirling textures of guitar shimmer across the airwaves, as we walk dazed through a cloud of smoke. A soundtrack to the opium dens of a bygone era? Brilliant doom rock, for sure!
The title track is the epic, center piece of the album. Obscure simply bring it on this song. Epic build up at the intro, Maiden inspired guitar work over a classic galloping metal rhythm, searing guitar solos, psychedelic instrumental break that morphs into another sludge riff. Awesome stuff! It’s song writing like this that damn near makes these guys a prog outfit, which is cool. I mean seriously . . . when was the last time that we had a prog doom outfit pummeling our senses? Finally, the last track, “Abraxis” is a heart stopping riff-fest that undoubtedly will have your head bobbing up and down, and ultimately have you pushing the replay button on your CD player.