When a band jumps onto the scene and releases its first demo or EP, there’s a general talking point around promise. Perhaps it shows promise or it may even feel like it’s making a promise to new audiences that this band can deliver something powerful if they just get the chance to go the distance with a full-length. Obscene’s 2017 EP Sermon To The Snake did both. It was a straightforward slab of OSDM that wore its influences on its sleeve and cut to the chase. In 2020, Obscene delivered on all the promises that EP made by elevating their game across the board with the debut The Inhabitable Dark. They honed their work by playing live and unleashed a half-hour of memorable riffs and howling vocals backed by a tight and varied rhythm section. Everything they showed they could do in 2017, they did even better when given the chance. In fact, The Inhabitable Dark made it onto my year-end list in 2020 and remains in steady rotation for me today.
The most immediate element of change is the darker nature and hint of atmosphere that permeates the album. While their previous album closed with its longest, most dynamic song, …From Dead Horizon To Dead Horizon opens with it in the form of “I Shall Drink The Earth’s Blood” after a brief intro track. It has a slower brooding build that works toward letting the guitar briefly sing before divebombing into a classic “OUGH” from vocalist Kyle Shaw to let things start blasting. The drums are at times militant and the riffs nearly suffocating before Mike Morgan’s first lead of the album at the 3-minute mark. Morgan fired off wicked licks in the form of brief leads in the past but often felt like he was holding back; not anymore. He announces himself on this song with wailing, shredding and a glimmer of soul.
Immediately after flexing their dynamic muscles, the band stops pussyfooting around and goes for the throat with “Deathless Demigod.” The opening riff in this song is the best one on the album and will surely be stuck in your head hours after hearing it. Morgan’s lead here is right out of the Brandon Ellis playbook and wouldn’t be out of place on Nightbringers. In fact, this entire song flirts with a sense of melody that makes every part infection without actually dipping its toe into melodeath.
Everything that follows delivers some worth hearing too. “Faith Through Pain” attacks with a stop-start assault with sword swipes of riffs that will lop your head off while you try to whirl it around. “Insensate Cruelty” runs with a mutated sense of gallop. “The Burrowing Hiss” has a more technical riff that bounces back and forth with simpler rhythmic passages to keep things from getting too off-kilter. “Shrew’s Nest” implements tremolo riffing as many other songs do but the pacing gives it a sense of sped-up tank treads shredding through mangled corpses. And, while it may be a less vital element for some, the “OUGH” kicked out around the 40-second mark of “Children Of The Static” might just be the best of Shaw’s career as it so perfectly kicks the song into gear.
The album art of Obscene’s two albums sums up their career quite well. The Inhabitable Dark relied on all the classic tropes done incredibly well and saw the band looking up to their death metal forefathers just as the moldy skeletons peered toward the castle on its cover. On …From Dead Horizon To Dead Horizon, Obscene has become fully aware of their own strengths and turned into a powerful monster ready to take on all challengers.