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Obscurity - Skogarmaors

Obscurity
Skogarmaors
by Gary Hernandez at 02 October 2021, 6:51 PM

With their distinctive blend of Death, Viking, and Black Metal, Germany’s OBSCURITY returns with their ninth studio album, “Skogarmaors,” once again on Trollzorn Records. It has been four long years since we’ve heard from OBSCURITY, and they don’t disappoint with close to an hour of dauntless metal spanning 13 tracks. While a few things have changed since 2017—namely two lineup changes with guitarist Askar and drummer Isarn joining the ranks—what hasn’t changed is stalwart quality music these the lads forge.

“Skogarmaors” is an old Norse word meaning “man of the forest,” most often an outcast or outlaw accused of sundry crimes but who are also viewed by larger society as anti-heroes, standing against injustice and waving the banner of freedom. Thematically the album weaves narratives through diverse lyrics that “reach from Nordic mythology to contemporary social subjects.” Complementing this theme is the lush cover art by Jan Yrlund, which tells its own story of defiance and exile. Yrlund’s treatment is immediately familiar as he has supported other greats such as KORPIKLAANI, MANOWAR, TYR.

Production-wise, the album is impeccable with clear separation even at the heaviest of moments. Audiophiles will be able to discern the distinct instrumentation while the more brutal of our brethren can still get lost in an avalanche of riffs and blast beats. What I like most about OBSCURITY is their leaning towards Melodic Black rather than the shanty melodies that are often found in Folk Metal. You won’t find an over-proliferation of synths, or acoustic, traditional instruments (e.g., mouth harps, Celtic drums, antler whistles) dubbed into more intense metal currents. The closest the band gets to that is the bonus track, “Valkyria,” which, after 50 some-odd minutes of battle-level metal, offers a restive acoustic intro. Of course, that only lasts about a minute and a half before we ramp up again.

Standout tracks are many, but my favorites are “Valkyria” as the most inventive of the lot. Understanding the band took a risk with this one, I think it paid off in terms of the depth of the music as well as the lyrics. A touchy and inspiring piece, indeed. “Konstantinopel” is another standout. About the conquest of Constantinople, the tale is well known, but when told in harmony to powerful riffs, guttural vocals, and a ballistic rhythm section, it takes on a whole new dimension. Title-track “Skogarmaors,” of course, ranks high on my list of favorites for both its stirring spirit as well as its infectious hook. With 13 tracks, I could easily extend my standout list by another ten.

With over two decades of experience under their belts, it’s not surprising that OBSCURITY has carved out yet another outstanding artifact. Lineup changes, a global pandemic, economic turmoil, and environmental upheavals can’t stop these lads. The spirit that they herald in “Skogarmaors” is also the spirit they embody.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.    Wodanaz Kriger
2.    Niedertracht
3.    Ethnogenese
4.    Konstantinopel
5.    Geist von Neuenberge
6.    Skogarmaors
7.    Glod En Isa
8.    Blot
9.    Legion
10.  Bergische Löwen Pt.2
11.  Dies Ater
12.  Schwertmission
13.  Valkyria (Bonus Track)
Lineup:
Agalaz – Vocals
Dornaz – Guitars
Askar – Guitars
Isarn – Drums
Ziu – Bass
Record Label: Trollzorn
     


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Edited 25 October 2021
 

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