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Extinctionist – Obsidian

by Santiago Puyol at 30 August 2020, 2:42 PM

German Brutal Death Metal band EXTINCTIONIST released their third full-length this 2020 and it might as well be an adequate soundtrack to these apocalyptic times we are living in. It is indeed quite appropriate that a band whose name evokes the idea of welcoming human extinction provide a soundtrack to a year that at times has felt on the verge of utmost collapse.

Picture a couple of co-workers talking about mundane stuff when suddenly chaos ensure. An alarm sounding, giving off the clear notion that something is way off. An asteroid or something like that is approaching Earth and all life seems about to be erased in inevitable fashion. With a bit of dramatic dialogue, EXTINCTIONIST throws the listener right into madness. "Maintenance" is just an acted intro, "Gravity" is where the music actually starts, bursting at your ears with demented drumming and piercing, savage screaming. The track flows by quickly, being a little over two minutes and a half.

Most of "Obsidian" is made up of two-to-three-minute long tracks, with complex musicianship and a sense of urgency. This band truly put the brutal in Brutal Death Metal. Growls are barely discernible and simply mash with the rest of the music, being like more than texture. You don’t need to understand Christian Martin to feel the despair, insanity and even rage that he conveys.

"Defcon" and "Shift" punch you in the gut with their blast beat assault. Florian Graf’s drumming is simply insane and anchors the shifting, complex nature of the music. When the band lets the guitar work breathe a little –just a little– both Mitchell Petrausch and Denny Lang get to show off their chops into angular riffs and exquisite tapped shredding.

Being the longest track "Flesh Shall Fall" –at a mere four minutes– allows for a couple of time signature changes and tempo shifts. It waltzes and swings, in a macabre and vicious way, going hard and heavy at a couple of breakdowns. There is perverse sense of groove ingrained into the songwriting, with a slight Grindcore feel when things get truly manic. "C H A O S" sounds almost like a coda being placed right after it.

"Like Obsidian" functions as the title track and has to be the proggiest of the bunch, with spidery guitar lines and mathy breaks in rhythm. It even moves into Latin-tingled territory, with couple of clave-inspired syncopated snare work, going tribal and percussive with its little jam in the middle. "Infiltrate" follow with its machine gun-like drumming and riffing and thrashy lead guitar work. It slows down a bit for a nasty breakdown, keeping the listener headbanging along.

Being the true closer, "Escape To Nowhere" builds massively through its brief three minutes in length. It goes from melodic, melodramatic passages, with echoey guitar lines to an explosive crescendo. The track keeps on building tension before climaxing in screamed vocals and wall-of-noise guitar layering. "Welcome Home" is an outro with more voice acting and soft sci-fi music, bleeps and boops. Astronauts coming back to a destroyed Earth and being confronted with some monstrous menace? EXTINCTIONIST simply leaves you with a massive cliffhanger and waiting for more!

I have to admit that I am not always a fan of inserting dialog into records, as they can come off as corny or simply disrupt the flow of the record. Narration or voice acting needs to be done well and placed in a non-obstrusive way in the tracklist to guarantee that if it does not provide anything good to the record, at least it does the least damage possible. EXTINCTIONIST succeed in this addition of spoken word passages both because they bookend the record, so the music is allowed to breathe and flow naturally, but also because the voice acting feels almost like a homage to radio theatre.

The music also works as a charm, going along with the theme. You can picture the destruction, bloodshed and chaos through its eight tracks. Everyone involved in the process is clearly talented, with top-notch musicianship, great production values and strong songwriting. Adding just a slight feel of experimentalism and a couple of proggy and mathy bits, the band keeps the tracks from feeling too derivative in style. "Obsidian" is a powerful record with just the necessary amount of melodrama to make it fun even when soundtracking the end of the world as we know it.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Maintenance Intro
2. Gravity
3. Defcon
4. Shift
5. Flesh Shall Fall
6. C H A O S
7. Like Obsidian
8. Infiltrate
9. Escape To Nowhere
10. Welcome Home Outro
Denny Lang – Guitars
Mitchell Petrausch – Guitars
Christian Martin – Vocals
Florian Graf – Drums
Record Label: Miasma Records / Vomit Your Shirt


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Edited 29 November 2022

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