Rating:
7.5
Obscura - Retribution
August 2006


01. Humankind
02. Nothing
03. Unhinged
04. None Shall Be Spared
05. Alone
06. Hymn To A Nocturnal Visitor
07. Intoxicated
08. Exit Life
09. Sentiment
10. Sweet Silence
11. Lack Of Comprehension [Death cover]

2010 Re-Release Bonus Tracks:

12. Synthetically Revived [Suffocation cover]
13. God Of Emptiness [Morbid Angel cover]


I've always seen tech death as having two waves. First, there were the older bands that pioneered it in the early 90s, primarily Death, Cynic, Atheist, and Nocturnus. These bands put a technical (or progressive) spin on the classic death metal sound, but for the most part, their music was more death metal than it was progressive. Then we have the newer bands, the "second wave," (Obscura, Necrophagist, Beyond Creation, The Faceless, etc) who in a way flipped that on its head, and made the genre become a bit more… evolved, for lack of a better word. For those who have become accustomed to Obscura's sound on Cosmogenesis and Omnivium, you're a little out of luck finding it on their debut. Retribution is something of an homage to the classic tech death sound, particularly that of Death (*hint hint* "Lack Of Comprehension" cover). It's nowhere near as advanced as Obscura's more recent work, but it certainly isn't a bad release either.

For the most part, Retribution has a core death metal sound. The aggressive guitar riffing and blast beats of the drums are all there, and although then-guitarist Markus Lempsch certainly pales in comparison to the coming Christian Muenzner, he still manages to carve some interesting, though regrettably sometimes brief, leads alongside Steffen Kummerer (the ones in "Alone" are particularly nice). The tracks are a bit shorter in average length than Obscura's later work, some clocking in under 3 minutes ("Unhinged," "Intoxicated," "Hate Anthem"), which in a way might give one the impression that on this album, the band was more concerned with some straight up ball-crushing death metal than with the intricate composition that was to come. In that regard, what also comes as a bit of a disappointment is the inaudibility of the bass, the jazzy, progressive playing style of later albums not really being there at all.

Having said that, however, Retribution does drop a few notable hints at the band Obscura was to become. There are the clean vocals on "Nothing," similar to those in the band's later material, as well as the little melodic break towards the end of "None Shall Be Spared." Also, there's the truly interesting cello work in the middle of "Hymn To A Nocturnal Visitor" (possibly the strongest track on the album), which upon a first listen really raised my eyebrows, because let's not kid ourselves: there aren't many death metal bands that can pull something like that and still be taken seriously.

This album might get a lot of shit for what it isn't, but I think it should rather be taken for what it is. Some moments of experimentation rear their heads amongst its primarily uncompromising brutish sound, and that's what should be taken into consideration. If Omnivium was Charizard, and Cosmogenesis was Charmeleon, then Retribution was Charmander. But hey, all evolution has to start somewhere, and for a debut album, this guy, all around, really isn't that disappointing.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Band profile: Obscura
Album: Retribution


 


written by Apothecary | 16.01.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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MetalDoomMaster - 16.01.2012 at 07:25  
This is one of my favorite death metal albums of all time. It definitely deserves more attention than it gets. There are a lot of cool influences here such as Death, and is much more brutal than their newer stuff. And the covers on the re-release of this album are just pure awesomeness.
doyle777 - 16.01.2012 at 16:33  
I absolutely agree with this review.
Zaphod - 03.03.2012 at 16:50  
I agree with this review. And you have gained infinite respect for referring to Pokémon, while talking about Obscura.
Apothecary - 03.03.2012 at 17:00  
Written by Zaphod on 03.03.2012 at 16:50

You have gained infinite respect for referring to Pokémon, while talking about Obscura.

Glad you liked the reference man
Zaphod - 03.03.2012 at 18:09  
Written by Apothecary on 03.03.2012 at 17:00

Glad you liked the reference man

I just hope their next album isn't Squirtle and goes straight to Blastoise.

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