Considered one of the most important underrated releases in the technical death metal world, Gorguts found new life with the release of their third full length studio album, Obscura.
With one listen to the openning track, “Obscura”, it’s clear that some people will quickly hit the eject button and remove this release from their collection, since the Gorguts of the past has been replaced with “twanging” guitar riffs and chords that sound so terrible they will give you an instant migraine. Another let down on this track would be the vocal performance ranging from a rather impressive guttural to a really unimpressive scream that just sound like a weak Macabre impersonation. Unfortunately, this is how the rest of Obscura flows as well, with a few exceptions where the guitars don’t sound either completely clustered, or really irritating.
As far as the non-Avant-Garde to the max tracks go, they’re definitely worth any mental pain you may incur while listening to this CD. While the vocals still vary like every other track, many of the songs on here will not give you a migraine thanks to the twangy sound the chords are playing, and some of them sound great with the Avant-Garde sound, like “Nostalgia” during the guitar solo, which is about where the album actually starts to really take off and kind of return to a normal sound since “Obscura” and “The Carnal State” sound horrible with the way the guitars are played, almost as if you’re listening to a death metal version of music you would hear at a circus when the clown car arrives. The track “Clouded” is one of the more stand out tracks on the album, being a really slow paced, almost Sludge or Stoner metal track with some technical guitar work. But, even still, the vocals will often drag a song down. Take “Rapturous Grief” for instance, with it’s constant back of the throat weak shouts that were mentioned earlier in the review pretty much comprising the entire song.
When you really sit down and listen to Obscura, yes, it’s a brilliant release that really stuck out in death metal when it was released, and still does to this day. However, there is just a bit too much of the album that goes over the top when it starts off, and the vocals seriously could have been better, especially given the past two releases by the band. In the end, Gorguts put out an album that really was something unique, but there were just too many negative elements to really sit down and call this “classic” release a true death metal masterpiece. Had the vocals stuck to a strictly gutteral standpoint, and not some high pitched shouting that sounds insanely weak, Obscura would have really been an intense listen on par with their first two albums.