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Obliteration - Cenotaph Obscure Award winner

Obliteration
Cenotaph Obscure
by Sean McGuirk at 08 December 2018, 7:50 AM

The fourth album from Norwegian death metal outfit OBLITERATION and the first in five years, “Cenotaph Obscure” is a chaotic trip into the cosmic death metal singularity, a simultaneously accessible and artfully brutal work that is sure to be counted as one of the top death metal releases of 2018. The album is produced by Martin Ehrencrona and recorded at his Studio Cobra in Stockholm, Sweden, which houses a plethora of analog equipment that has attracted bands like Tribulation who seek that elusive and ever-popular throwback sound.  It works beautifully here to create a mix that feels even more organic and cohesive than 2013’s stellar “Black Death Horizon."

A dark, mystical atmosphere permeates throughout, playing like the first few stages of an ayahuasca trip synced to swirling stereo-panned guitar (Arild Myren Torp) and R. Kristian Valbo’s furiously technical drumming, which sits tastefully in the background and doesn’t overpower the mix.  Guiding you through the madness are the reverb-drenched vocals of Sindre Solem, with his shouts of “celestial fire!” and “forgotten rituals!” emanating as if from a deep abyssal plain. The title/opening track beckons with a luring shamanic drumbeat before exploding into a frenzied controlled chaos that hallmarks the rest of the album. Tremolo picking is the main method of melody transportation, recalling a mix of classic Swedish death and Norwegian black metal with an album like DARKTHRONE’s “Soulside Journey” coming to mind.

Norway indeed has a long history of genre-bending extreme metal bands that have surely inspired OBLITERATION’s sound.  The stand-out track “Tumulus of Ancient Bones” has an infectious off-kilter melody that reminds one a bit of the black metal experimentation of ARCTURUS and GEHENNA.  The vocals are an equal mix of death bellows and demented-preacher-style shouting that could recall Dødheimsgard’s earliest offerings.  Without a doubt OBLITERATION has created a work here that stands on its own among these classic albums. The lone instrumental track, “The Orb” is a quiet two-minute scene setter that segues gracefully into “Eldritch Summoning, the longest and most ominous track on the album, featuring a flanged bass played by Didrik Telle-Wernersen at the top that lends a psych rock feel to the proceedings. “Detestation Rite” showcases the bands versatility as a brief Motörhead-esque rev-up section settles into a classic death metal chainsaw groove, with blast beats and a slowed-down doom interlude included for good measure.

As we move through “Onto Damnation,” an incantation set to blast beats that feels like the Ark has just been opened, “Charnel Plains” brings our journey to a resolution, as a dizzying swarm of melodious tremolo picking sends us in all directions as we imagine getting sucked into some kind of strange inter-dimensional portal.  The flanged bass returns here, adding to the psychological disarray as the sound literally disintegrates into nothingness. It’s been a fun ride, folks! With a varied mix of death and black metal signatures and some light prog leanings tied together by outstanding production, “Cenotaph Obscure” is OBLITERATION’s finest and most complete output yet.  It’s a brisk 40-minute journey into the void that you’ll absolutely want to revisit.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Cenotaph Obscure
2. Tumulus of Ancient Bones
3. Orb
4. Eldritch Summoning
5. Detestation Rite
6. Onto Damnation
7. Charnel Plains
Lineup:
Sindre Solem - Vocals
Arild Myren Torp - Guitars
Didrik Telle-Wernersen - Bass
R. Kristian Valbo - Drums
Record Label: Indie Recordings
     


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