They'll be a tendency in critical circles to dub OBSCURA the new ATHEIST (or insert any similar originator) and while that may be a tad overblown, it isn't far off. On sophomore album "Cosmogenesis" — the German band that features in its ranks ex-members of NECROPHAGIST and PESTILENCE — have what will easily be one of the best technical death metal albums of 2009. Scratch that; it'll be one of the best death metal albums of 2009.
Even those fans that profess a "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude toward tech-death may make an exception for "Cosmogenesis" because of superb songwriting that does not sacrifice melody for chops. You'll need to give the album two or three spins before you're able to shake off feelings of "Oh, they're just another ATHEIST/CYNIC/NECROPHAGIST clone". Those feelings may be natural, but if you think about it, how many bands could actually "clone" bands of that stature anyway? The collective's compositional acumen on "Cosmogenesis" is what sets OBSCURA apart from the tech-death hordes, specifically those bands that are "fuckin' brutal, dude" and "totally fucking shredding, bro".
The arpeggios are in full force, but in no way overdone and always tasteful, while the bass is given equal weight with the guitars and used more often as counterpoint than disciplined rhythmic follower. What will really grab you about the bass work and six-string fireworks is the exceptional command of melody; even the solos are done almost exclusively in service to the song. As for the drumming, blast beats are used when necessary and the percussiveness is bursting with color and accent (the title track showcases both ends of the rhythmic spectrum).
In other words, melody is never left behind on the album. Songs such as "The Anticosmic Overload", "Centric Flow", and "Infinite Rotation" (to name just three) are grounded in accessibility, while the instrumentation swirls about without ever causing the train to derail. Vocally, the style alternates between the fairly guttural and a mid-range rasp, occasionally switching to those CYNIC-esque extraterrestrial vocals (e.g. "Choir of Spirits", "Infinite Rotation", "Noospheres"), and like every other piece of the puzzle result in maximum impact when utilized. Perhaps most telling of the band's ability to write strong melodies is the fact that the album's lone instrumental track, "Orbital Elements", is downright infectious; it is just a great song. How often can you truly say that about an instrumental?
The influences here are clear and the road followed is no longer less traveled, neither of which makes "Cosmogenesis" anything less than a terrific technical death metal album. The fact of that matter is that OBSCURA have found the sweet spot where technical wizardry and memorable songwriting meet, something that a miniscule number of acts have managed to do. There are a lot of ridiculously talented tech-death bands out there, but OBSCURA are one of the few able to put the song first. I'm not certain there is another band of this type out there that could do the style as well as OBSCURA; THE FACELESS is the only one I can think of that nearly matches the Germans in this regard. As such, "Cosmogenesis" comes highly, highly recommended.