Rocking old-school metal is always fun! Caligari Records has just released old-school metal-obsessed band Obscure Evil’s latest on cassette tape called Midnight Forces. Obscure Evil still keeps the old-school comparisons spurring debates: Which bands inspired and helped shape Obscure Evil’s punk, blackened heavy metal sound? The guesses have run the gamut, some suggesting that there’s some Possessed and Venom here, even some Bathory. The truth is clear to me however, that the members of Obscure Evil don’t seek comparisons with other bands, and instead desire that Obscure Evil’s sound be considered for its own merits.
The rapid tremolo riffs and old-school heavy metal licks merge seamlessly. The short, catchy licks reveal simple but effective little lead sections to pace the rhythm section. Like old cassette tapes, there’s no abundant use of bass in the mix, even if the guitars bludgeon and hack with undeniable persuasion. Obscure Evil likes to let songs evolve in simple jam-sessions that have birthed the band’s compositions. Never too technical, never indulgent on complex morphing riffs, Obscure Evil sends listeners back to the late eighties with string bends, and simple guitar effects, adding the vocal screeches that have made the ranks of underground bands in blackened thrash and heavy metal, similar to those used by bands like Midnight.
Less catchy than what comparisons to Midnight might suggest, the drums also boom and echo with snare drum hits and cymbal crashes typical of ’80s recorded metal albums. Also, the live-take production values provide the music a clear but aged recording quality that fans of throwback metal will appreciate in great likelihood. The riffs aren’t hard to make out, and the bass drum sounds like a slight thud, even as the bass barely registers on record. Like Possessed’s Seven Churches, with less epic quality and songwriting prowess, Obscure Evil still makes a persuasive attempt at recreating metal greatness, if not for a very pleasing parody of antiquated metal mixing with modern-day elements used with great success. The devil is in the details here, and the band carefully negotiates through a fertile landscape of old-school influences to craft something undeniably charming to any metal fan in the modern age.
Sometimes, it occurs to the listener that the riffs might not sound as charmingly deceptive as blatantly as other bands have used their influences to instead inspire parody in forms that are tributary instead of essential. But, the trappings of using old-school influences are usually more obvious to fans that have heard the greats at work, and may therefore decide that any tributary effort is not worth the time for any serious consideration. Obscure Evil resurrect old-school charm, still a niche market in a day and age when bands with music that is more melodic typically make up the rosters of a greater quantity of mainstream metal labels.
While comparisons to Possessed may only hurt a young band such as Obscure Evil because Possessed’s landmark albums are invaluably penultimate and serve as genre-defining records meant to never be forgotten, it is nice to know that some bands still pay attention to them and attempt to rekindle a love for the style for whatever its worth. Not to be considered amongst the greats themselves but to instead remind listeners of metal’s ancient roots, and the expansive quality of metal’s dearth of genres and sub-genres to create worthwhile discussions. Give Obscure Evil a chance to win your minds and hearts before labels like throwback inspire close comparisons.
Most important, allow yourselves to experience a band’s music from starting point, a fresh perspective and fun-loving attitude. Obscure Evil should win over fans of old-school metal purely through the band’s music, their creative endeavors, their love for their instruments, the way it was supposed to be, the way we once cherished our idols. Metal is too broad to pigeon-hole simply for its own sake. Metal like this needs a validation for continued existence, so pay your respects, listen without prejudice and may the gods of metal be with you, every string bend, every screeching lead guitar segment Obscure Evil use to conjure new music here, on Midnight Forces.
1. Enchants of Bitterness
2. Searing Vomit Rain
3. Midnight Forces
4. Obscure Prayings
Obscure Evil are:
Naked Whipper – guitar
Suffering Soul – bass
Tzarathustra – drums
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