Saturday, May 2, 2009

Obscurity - Ovations To Death (1986)

Ovations To Death is the first demo from Obscurity, an old Black/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 Black/Death Metal 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.