Dec 052022

(Andy Synn sneaks in another review prior to his annual year-end round-up week)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… “Technical Death Metal” and “Tech Death” aren’t the same thing.

Sure, they’re related – no-one is denying that (well, almost no-one) – but “Technical Death Metal”, in my book, refers to bands that build on a more traditional Death Metal framework while adding an extra dose of technicality, whereas “Tech Death” tends to incorporate more influences and inspirations from Prog and/or Melodic Death Metal and/or Deathcore to create more of a hybrid sound with the technicality at the centre.

Of course, then there’s also “Brutal Technical Death Metal”… but let’s not go there right now.

All of this, in the end, is a long-winded way of getting round to saying that while the debut album from Obvurt is being released on a label most people probably associate more with “Tech Death” the record itself is technically much more of a Death Metal album, with all the massive heaviness and merciless aggression that implies.

Here’s the thing though… it doesn’t really matter what you call it – Tech Death, Technical Death Metal, Brutal Technical Death Metal, etc – because, ultimately, the proof is in the pudding pounding, and Triumph Beyond Adversity does not pull its punches.

Over the course of seven concisely-crushing, precisely punishing tracks (plus one scene-setting introduction) Obvurt unleash a veritable maelstrom of jagged riffs, bone-jarring blastbeats, and jugular-ruining growls that owe more to the brutalising bombardments of latter-day Deeds of Flesh and modern-day Cryptopsy than the flashier fretboard antics of many of their current label-mates (which is not, to be clear, to say that Unique Leader don’t also have a bevy of suitably brutal bands on their roster as well).

From the spiralling leads, devastating drums, and subtly dissonant riffage of “Second Chance” and the unexpectedly catchy tremolo’d contortions of “Invisible Enemy” (where the band also unveil some nascent, Mithras-esque atmospheric ambitions) to the closing pairing of the prodigiously powerful “Life and Death” (whose unstoppable slow-burn towards critical mass demonstrates that the band are more than capable of stretching their wings, and stretching their song-writing skills, when necessary) and the churning, Suffocation-inspired “Versus”, this album just keeps on hitting you, harder and harder, searching for that knock-out blow.

Does it find it? Maybe, maybe not. But for a debut album it’s certainly a winner on points, if not by outright KO.

And what makes its assault even more effective – and bodes well for the band’s future – is the way that the technically-talented trio (comprising gifted vocalist/guitarist Philippe Drouin, hyper-speed drummer Charléli Arsenault-Tremblay, and fleet-fingered bassist Alexandre Chouinard ) duck and weave their way under your guard and around your expectations, displaying a surprising gift for both melody and technicality (reminiscent, at times, of early Abysmal Dawn), as well as a knack for marrying obscene heaviness to unexpected catchiness along the way.

So if you haven’t finished and finalised your “Top Albums of 2022” list yet, then maybe consider finding a place on it for this one. You won’t regret it.

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