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Ovations To Death (1986)

Ovations To Death is the first demo from Obscurity, an old death metal band from Malmö, Sweden. Influenced by the likes of Motorhead, Slayer and Bathory, the band's initial demo was released in 1986, not long after they formed. This was recorded in an 8-track analog studio and featured an aggressive sound and Satanic lyrics.

"Across the Holocaust" begins with a somber atmosphere, as Chopin's Funeral March serves as the intro. This is then interrupted by a hellish blast of guitars and explosive drums, accompanied by a sinister hissing. The song is driven by the pulsing drums and sped-up thrash riffs. The vocals are somewhat unique, as they aren't quite as harsh sounding as one might expect. The vocalist sounds possessed by madness. The sound is not entirely one-dimensional, as the tempo changes and a mid-paced thrash riff appears, briefly.

"Excursion To Eternity" continues the fast-paced assault. The production isn't great, but it's adequate enough for a demo. The style is very reminiscent of The Awakening, from Merciless, though that album wouldn't be recorded until three years later. Oddly, this bears little (if any) semblance to other Swedish bands such as Bathory, Mefisto or Morbid. As on the previous song, the bass is quite audible and the lead solo is well-placed.

The longest song on the demo is "Spiritual Entity". The opening riffs of this song are slower, with the doom-filled bass lines adding to the ominous feeling of dread. The track takes a minute or so to really build-up, finally resulting in a violent outburst of sound. Surprisingly, the vocalist throws in a high-pitched scream, which definitely dates the recording. It's a nice touch. After a bit of a bass solo, the fury resumes, pounding relentlessly. The music is intense and the vocals are filled with hatred.

"Celestial Conquest" is next, beginning with fast-picked bass lines and guitar riffs that soon join. This is another song possessed of a furious tempo, more high-pitched wails thrown in and brief guitar solos. This one is raw and straight-forward, being very primitive in its approach.

This is followed by the shortest track on here, "The Condemnation". This song is pretty fast-paced as well, but it seems a little more subdued in its execution. This is, probably, more a result of the production than anything else. However, it features some really nice tremolo riffs, briefly emerging from the chaos. All of this sounds quite good, expecially for a demo. In actuality, the quality is equal (or superior) to some of the full-length albums being released in Brazil, around this time.

"Unblessed Domain" brings the demo to its conclusion, maintaining the merciless bludgeoning of your skull. The pace doesn't really change, throughout the song. During the chorus, the vocalist injects a bit of melody, matching the rhythm of the guitar riffs. There are also a couple lead solos that add to the sound, though not being particularly special.

Ovations To Death was another hidden treasure that I recently discovered, feeling great shame in possessing no knowledge of this forgotten band from Sweden. Then again, there is a part of me that is grateful that some things have been missed, as it provides more mystery in this music; it is pleasant to think that there may still be gems such as this, waiting to be discovered. The closest thing that I would compare this to is early Merciless, so any fan of that (or other underground 80s bands) should seek this out.
(2 May 2009)

Damnation's Pride (1987)

A short time after releasing their first demo in 1986, Sweden's Obscurity returned in 1987 with yet another slab of underground death metal known as Damnation's Pride. This recording showed improvement in the overall sound, as the production allowed for a much more powerful representation of the band. The songwriting was a bit more varied as well, with the band experimenting with a few things. It was recorded in the same studio as Ovations To Death, which had been rebuilt into a 16-track studio. The Satanic lyrical theme was now absent, except for the title track. Upon releasing this, the band members found themselves a bit more satisfied with their efforts.

"Graves of Rebirth" emerges from the shadows with a slow doom riff and ghoulish hissing, before demonic cries and pounding drums build a bit of tension before the song truly explodes from the darkness to rip your face right off. The riffs and solos still owe a great deal to speed and thrash metal. The pace is relentless and the vocals are still possessed by a deep hatred, as on the previous release.

The title track continues this onslaught, with one curious difference. For the vocals, they chose to use some sort of effect. Not being an expert on studio trickery, it's difficult to say it the vocalist used a harmonizer of some sort or if the effect is caused by a lot of reverb. At any rate, it seems to be utilized for the purpose of adding more of a demonic sound. It works well enough, though it wasn't entirely necessary as it results in a loss of the raw hatred. That isn't a complaint so much as a simple observation.

"Mortal Remains" makes use of more of some mid-paced thrash riffs. This is good, as it displays a little variety in the sound, allowing for the songs to be more easily distinguished. The same vocal effect from the previous track is also present here. The tempo remains consistent throughout the course of the song. It all ends with a very nice lead solo that is played over slow doom riffs.

The demo closes in a furious manner, as "Demented" rushes forward at a frantic pace. The vocals are back to the normal, hate-filled sound and he even lets out a quick high-pitched scream. This song is pretty intense, despite its ephemeral nature, and serves well to bring things to an end.

Damnation's Pride showed that Obscurity had improved in a short amount of time. Judging from this recording, one would think that the band would have put out an L.P. at some point. Unfortunately, it never came to pass. Two brief demos are all that remain of this band. The band name, then, becomes all the more appropriate when thinking of this. This demo is highly recommended. Perhaps, for a glimpse of what an Obscurity L.P. may have sounded like, I would suggest picking up the first Merciless album.
(3 May 2009)

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