Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: Dominant Obscurity - Dominant Obscurity (2009)

Dominant Obscurity [ MySpace ]
Dominant Obscurity

There are a number of metalheads out there who are quick to condemn as "untrue" any extreme Heavy Metal style that is preceded by the word "atmospheric". Let's take atmospheric Black Metal, for example. Some claim that the true meaning of Black Metal is diluted by catchy keyboard passages and spellbinding riffs, but I strongly disagree. By using atmospheric elements to make Black Metal more accessible to a wider range of fans, bands do more to perpetuate the Black Metal message than their genre mates who stick to it's rawest, bleakest form. Admittedly, there is a fine line between creating music that adheres to the tenets of the style while embracing a wider audience and creating Black Metal that is truly "poser". On their self-titled debut demo, France's Dominant Obscurity  establish themselves as a band that lies squarely in the former camp - creating accessible Black Metal without crossing over into cheesedom.

The demo begins with a lengthy synth-oriented intro that could easily serve as the musical backdrop to an interstellar horror film, but soon the Black Metal onslaught of "Fall of the Unlucid" is unleashed. The harsh tremolo riffs laid down by Eric and Fred are mirrored by the distinctive bass contributions of Vincent. Throughout the disc, his undulating and complex lines lend a frantic groove to the mix. At about the 3-minute mark, the song takes on a much heavier and doomier tone with significantly more groove to the riffs. The two parts of "Fall of the Unlucid" are so distinctly different that they could have been laid down as two separate tracks, but ultimately the combination works well. In addition to his rhythm guitar duties, Eric serves as the vocalist on the demo (a position he has since relinquished to drummer Kyste). He possesses a throaty rasp that is deeper than most Black Metal vocalists tend to have, lending a bit of a Doom/Death sound to Dominant Obscurity's style. The next track, "Profiles for Delusion", is of the same mold as the first half of the preceding track except that there's a tad more repetition in the riffs. Kyste's blast beats are a bit more frenzied here, however, and the song contains a decent breakdown featuring a swirling guitar lead from Fred. The final song, "Unleashing the Whispers", is the most ambitious track on this demo. It opens with numbing tremolo riffs and chaotic leads, but eventually makes a dramatic mood shift and adopts a more distinctive atmospheric quality. Pronounced riffs, strong bass, ethereal leads, and Eric's rumbling rasps once more incite comparisons to such Doom/Death bands as My Dying Bride and Anathema.

Dominant Obscurity doesn't really stretch any boundaries, but neither does it remain one-dimensional. The band eases atmospheric qualities into their mix in order to create a collection of songs that retain the raw emotions of Black Metal while enticing listeners with melody and songcraft. Recommended for Black Metal and Doom/Death fans alike.

Track Listing
1 Intro 2:27
2 Fall of the Unlucid 7:39
3 Profiles for Delusion 4:36
4 Unleashing the Whispers 9:55
Total Runtime 24:37

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