Obscurity – “Streitmacht” (Trollzorn)
Obscurity may have a strange name for a metal band, but now going on 20 years and with 7 albums under their bullet belts, these North Rhine-Westphalians are one of Germany’s earliest black / death / viking bands. Proud of their Bergisch Land roots but less clear about their style back in their youthful days, hence their name, Obscurity have gone from strength to strength over the years, and while there may not be much of a scene left in their hometown of Velbert, they are a well known national name with a hardcore fan base. Very much heavy metal fans and local lads themselves, this unpretentious outlook and band camaraderie may not win their music any technical or artistic awards, but this honest approach and attitude towards their fans, or rather friends, has resulted in this 8th album being dedicated to them in the title, meaning ‘armed forces’! Musically, the band describe their style as ‘battle metal’ and I’d agree, with names ranging from Naglfar to Amon Amarth to Hypocrisy very much evident in songs like the blast beating frenzy of ‘Ehre den Gefallenen’ complete with demonic shrieks tempered by a catchy chorus (!) to the straight up long ship invasion of ‘Endzeit’, with punchy grooves, warbling Norse melodies and Agalaz’s versatile vocals ranging from throat strained to hoarse Johan Hegg impressions to screamo. Standout track for me had to be ‘Non Serviam’ with its catchy Norse melodies effortlessly sliding into a nihilistic black / death groove all the while hammered by Draugr’s drums in the background – excellent. Winning no marks from critics expecting change, Obscurity stick it to ’em by instead delivering the goods on a hand forged album that was made by metal fans to satisfy their brothers in arms – bravo!