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Obscura Qalma – Apotheosis

Obscura Qalma
by Gary Hernandez at 20 November 2021, 10:25 PM

OBSCURA QALMA not only defies the “u” after “q” convention but also challenges several metal conventions by fusing attributes of Death, Black, and Symphonic into what they label as “blackened heavily orchestrated death metal." This Italian foursome formed in 2018, released their debut EP, “From the Sheol of the Apeiron,” in 2019, and their debut full-length, “Apotheosis,” on November 12, 2021, via Rising Nemesis Records. While their EP may have introduced them to the world, their recent album truly establishes their trajectory.

This ten-track offering spans over 46 minutes and like the musical elements it synthesizes, it also fuses lyrical and thematic sensibilities—e.g., the darkness of Black, the grimness of Death, the epic-ness of Symphonic. Result? Nihilistic ruminations on the meaning of existence set against a backdrop of razored riffs and voluminous synths. Translation: thoughtful lyrics put to good music.

“Apotheosis” kicks off with a brief but full-throttled orchestral piece, “Demise of Sun,” which will tease your subwoofers with seismic drops and create an air of pending doom. As track one fades, “Impure Black Enlightenment” rises with tight riffs and choral overtones. As the song progresses, more symphonic elements are layered in, though the vocals never veer into the operatic but instead stay solidly Death. By the end of track two, listeners have been treated to the full range of styles they’ll encounter throughout the album . . . and so the journey begins.

My favorite tracks are “Demise of Sun” because it patiently sets the scene for everything that follows, and it also reminds us of how heavy Symphonic can be when it wants to; “The Forbidden Pantheon” for its exquisite solo; “Paradise Lost” because you get the sense that the entire band took a shot at coming up with the heaviest shit in their shop—like, “Oh you think that isolated riff was killer, how about some evil choir straight from the pages of ‘Elric of Melniboné’?”; and, finally, “Telemachus Complex” because it made me read an article and learn something new—reminding me of something my youngest once observed: “Metal heads are just nerds with distortion pedals”; and “Awaken a Shrine to Oblivion” for an intro and outro that are so striking they need their own video game. And all that stuff in the middle ain't so bad either!

In a time when people are all raging about diversity and inclusion, “Apotheosis” is a solidly diverse metal album, merging attributes from numerous subgenres as well as schools of philosophy. In the end, OBSCURA QALMA create a sound that is unique, memorable, and bears repeating. For fans of Death, Black, Symphonic, and even Prog and Experimental, “Apotheosis” is definitely worth a listen.

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

3 Star Rating

1.  Demise of the Sun
2.  Impure Black Enlightenment
3.  Gemini
4.  The Forbidden Pantheon
5.  Trascending the Sefirot
6.  Paradise Lost
7.  Fleshbound
8.  The Telemachus Complex
9.  Imperial Cult
10.  Awaken a Shrine to Oblivion
Theo – Bass, vocals (backing)
Res – Drums, percussion
Sartorius – Guitars
Sirius – Guitars, vocals
Record Label: Rising Nemesis Records


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Edited 28 November 2021

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