Interview: Obscura

Interview: OBSCURA in 2010

As you may already know Obscura is a band from Germany (München) and was founded in 2002 by Steffen Kummerer (guitars, vocals). The band was named after the Gorguts album Obscura and that says a lot about their music. Obscura plays highly skilled, technical death metal, and among the members of the band we find ex-members of great old school death metal bands Necrophagist and Pestilence. After the show at Hatework fest. 2010, Ancient Beliefs made a short interview with Steffen.

Rep: First impression about Romania…

S.K.: I’ve never been to Romania before, we did a Balkan tour in 2007, when we started in Greece, we played everywhere, we just missed Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania, so it’s a pity, but it was some years ago. Romania is very impressive, we saw the “Big Palace” (n. \”Parliament House\”) which is one of the biggest building ever.

Rep: Yes, it’s the second biggest building in the world after The Pentagon.

S.K.: Yes, we’ve heard about it from the organizers (Hatework fest.). The whole organization of the festival was super here in Romania. Also, the Arch of Triumph is very similar to the one in Paris. It’s very sad that the inner city of Bucharest is…there is only a small part of the old Bucharest left.

Rep: When I talk about OBSCURA, I say that if Chuck Schuldiner would still be alive he would be a big fan of OBSCURA. What do you think about that?

S.K.: Thank you very much, but I guess Chuck Schuldiner listened to power metal and heavy metal, so I’m not sure he would like our stuff.

Rep: Why not? You covered their song “Lack of Comprehension” on the first album. For me DEATH represents the beginning of the technical progressive death metal.

S.K.: I have to agree, in the end we can all say that all of those old bands from the 90’s that started to bring something new to the technical metal bands, we can all say it was the basis for our songs.

Rep: It was a surprise for us to see you wearing a DISSECTION t-shirt…

S.K.: Really?

Rep: Yes, because technical death metal and DISSECTION don’t have that much in common.

S.K.: Well, if you see the harmonize, what DISSECTION made harmony wise is really really interesting; we have 3 die hard DISSECTION fans in the band, both the guitarists and the drummer. I have a DISSECTION tribute band – THULCANDRA. The last album was released by Napalm Records and we even have a Necrolord painted cover; and it sounds like one to one like DISSECTION. Also there are some slight influences into the OBSCURA sound. Rep: In a way… S.K.: In a way, if you just see the middle part of “Anticosmic Overload” you know, those guys listen to DISSECTION and you will remember it.

Rep: So, what is next for OBSCURA? Are you preparing a new album?

S.K.: We already recorded the new album, at the moment we are just mixing it, and mastering it, so I guess it will be out at the end of February, early March.

Rep: So, do you plan to come back to Romania?

S.K.: Yes, we do, at the first release of the album we will do a regular European tour, at the moment we are discussing a small east – European tour for one or two weeks. We want to do something like we did three years ago, but this time we want to go from Greece to Turkey, so we can play in Bulgaria and Romania as well. We would love to play here again, and I would love to work with the guys from DOR DE DUH. For my personal taste, it was the best band tonight; I really think they had the best sound the whole evening. I really liked them, I saw NEGURA BUNGET many years ago in Munchen. I like the avant-garde black metal stuff, it was like ENSLAVED… DOR DE DUH sounds like ENSLAVED with a good singer.

Rep: It is very interesting that you like DISSECTION, ENSLAVED and DOR DE DUH.

S.K.: Well, everybody listens to different stuff. I listen to a lot of black metal.

Rep: Do you listen to music outside the metal area?

S.K.: Yes, as well. Inside the metal area I listen to a lot of the old Swedish, Scandinavian metal bands like DISSECTION, I’m a huge fan of UNANIMATED, EUCHARIST, SACRAMENTUM all of those.

Rep: Most of them don’t play anymore.

S.K.: Yes, it’s a pity. Besides the metal area listen to PORTISHEAD, it’s a huge influence. I think it’s boring if you listen to only one kind of music.

Rep: Any jazz?

S.K.: Sometimes, as well. I am not familiar with jazz artists, but I like them.

Rep: When I look at your base player it seems that his music comes from the jazz area.

S.K.: yes, from jazz but also flamenco. We have some different influences from every sides, like the drummer, Hannes, comes from folk rock mainly, and Christian, the guitarist, did two studies, one for fusion and jazz guitar and the second was for jazz and rock guitar. We all combine it. It fits somehow.

Rep: There are some influences in your vocal style from brutal death metal.

S.K.: Probably, death grunts…

Rep: There are different types of death metal vocalists, and you somehow manage to combine styles.

S.K.: It’s just screams and growls (hahaha)… I also do clean vocals as well. It’s only a small color you can add, it’s not something I do throughout the song, and it’s more of a soft song which is why I have to grunt.

Rep: How much was the influence of the new members on the second album?

S.K: Pretty much. We are writing as a team; I am not the only song writer so we share.

Rep: But you write all the lyrics?

S.K.: Yes, I do, but music wise we share everything, everybody brings in what he has, so I would say that the drummer Hannes and I, we write most of the music, and the others contribute with ideas; it’s working like a team, it’s not a single person who writes everything.

Rep: In the end of our discussion, would you like to say something to Romanian fans?

S.K.: I hope we can come back pretty soon, I expect May next year, 2011, we would love to play again in Romania.

Rep: More than one show?

S.K.: Yes, maybe in Timisoara, Cluj, we will see, but I am not sure right now, but we are planning the south east European tour, so we would love to play in Romania again.

Rep: Thank you.

For Ancient Beliefs: Brindusa & T. Evi.


Festival: Hatework Festival 2010

Hatework Festival 2010

Location: Bucharest (RO), “Fabrica” Club
Date: October 31, 2010
The festival is at its third edition already and so far, it can be concluded that it mostly focuses on death metal sonorities. At past editions major bands like Nile, Sinister, Belphegor, Grave and others played at the festival.

The first band of the evening, Malpraxis (RO), brutal death metal, very good throaty voice, began in force with two short songs and without any further introduction, taking the audience by surprise. Unfortunately, the opening bands almost always don’t have much support from fans. The next track \”Necrophagist\” can already be considered \”the hit\” as the guys in the band call it. The following songs were short but very intense pieces, characteristic of the genre. From my point of view it was a great show overall, although a little short. Anyway, I think they will have a lot more to say, especially because the band has almost no competition on the Romanian metal scene. Moreover \”Malpraxis\” is preparing its first studio release.

Cap de craniu (RO), the second band, is a modern combination of grind-core, death metal and hardcore, very well combined. An unleashed singer from the first track, in permanent contact with the public, with a punk attitude, popular among a part of the public; I noticed that some of the band\’s devoted fans have disappeared after Cap de craniu ended their concert. From a musical standpoint, I heard some very good solos, rarely heard in this genre. In conclusion, we saw an excellent concert band, with extraordinary energy, perfect for the hardcore kids, but not only for them.

Once on scene Sincarnate (RO) the hall began to fill up, perhaps because in this festival, the band officially released the first full-length. Melodic doom / death metal, which has more of a subdued atmosphere, well-crafted songs, at times even dull. The atmosphere, and the less expansive stage presence, created for me a certain state of melancholy and meditation. The keyboard intro played in a northern folk metal manner caught my attention and really impressed me. It seems that the public was delighted; the guys received consistent applause at the end. They also had success with records and t-shirt sales.

The gloomy atmosphere was maintained during the Sear Bliss (HU) recital. The most representative band of recent years in the Hungarian extreme metal scene, even if without studio releases since 2007, Andras Nagy being the only survivor of the line-up that recorded \”The Arcane Odyssey\”, their performance was without compromise. The fast passages were perfectly matched with the atmospheric ones, enhanced by excellent trumpet interventions, evoking long forgotten times of epic and heroic grief. There is no need for more words as Sear Bliss is now a normal presence in Romania.

The next band on stage, DorDeDuh (RO), needs no introduction. Atmospheric black metal sound interspersed with traditional Romanian instruments, tulnics, additional percussion, were the main ingredients for one of the most anticipated events of the evening. The crowd fell into a trance from the first accords, experiencing the music at maximum intensity with those on stage. The only moment of turmoil occurred during the song \”Conoasterea tacuta\” a piece from the Negura Bunget’s period, although the show was partly based on older compositions, in a slightly different interpretation though, as DorDeDuh has only an EP released. However, a part of the public seemed unsatisfied, probably because (and this is my personal opinion) the band’s style was slightly inappropriate with the profile of the festival.

For the first time in Romania Obscura (DE), was for the majority of those present (I think), and for me also, the main-event of the evening. Technical / Progressive Death Metal brought to perfection. They began as expected with \”Anticosmic Overload\” and in an instant the crowd went mad. Everything went by the book, devastating riffs, excellent solos, atmospheric interludes, and the voice alternating between screams, grunts, growls and clean vocals. The rhythmic section was also a perfect 10; the drummer was astonishing and the bass player with his \”6 Strings Fretless\” seemed detached from an avant-garde jazz band. However, such a concert is very difficult to describe in words. If you ever have the opportunity to see Obscura live, do not miss it. From my point of view this was the show of the year in Romania. An interview right after the live show can he read here.

The headliners, Illdisposed (DNK), brought European quality death metal to the Hatework stage, did not impress me much, but it seems that the public felt different. The guys held up to their name, playing songs form their entire history of almost 20 years of metal. The concert hall was almost a constant a mosh-pit. Unfortunately, the vocalist exaggerated with jokes about gypsies, and especially with gays, which does not seem suitable for a concert hall, even if some of the jokes were direct references to them as a band, I still think it was of bad taste. If he had only limited himself to playing music…. Too bad. Looking forward to attend the next editions!

(c) Ancient Beliefs / article by T. Evi


Festival: Ost Mountain Fest. 2010

Live Report: Ost Mountain Fest. 2010

Ost Mountain Fest. 2010 (first edition)
Location: Valea Cerbului, Busteni, Romania (RO)
Date: 6-7-8 August, 2010
The OST festival was at its first edition and while the location was very impressive (but also making home of capricious weather) the bands and music styles spread over a lot of metal genres: from folk to death-black horrors.

Very interested about this event and about the special location I headed to Busteni’s ‘Valea Cerbului’ with impatience. I heard stories about savage bears in that area…the valley is really in the wild. So what could be more interesting than a metal festival in the wilderness of the mountains?

But what I had not expected, and it seems the organizers were too taken by surprise, was that the weather conditions. The weather was…also wild. Overall the festival was very good planned and organized, but pity that there was no \’plan B\’ for the scene location. The festival was close to ruination because of the rainy weather.

But let\’s jump to music, I could say it was a good bands lineup overall, with balanced music styles from folk, gothic, thrash, melodic black metal to extreme death. The headliners per day were: Negura Bunget, Ava Inferi and Belphegor respectively.
Friday 6 August 2010…so it begins

The show started around 17…with just about 100 attenders spread all over the camping around the scene.

Negative Core, OST 2010
The first day of the festival was opened by Negativ (local band!), followed by Shesdead and Negative Core, all the bands are from Romania and they play thrash/death, hardcore – a style nowadays, at least for me, of little interest. But good to mention Negative Core for a real show and a raw attitude. A show in force, a surprise for me, a sign that bands from Romania have an increased maturity and professionalism in live performances. (Compared to the scene 10 years ago.)

Hyperborea, OST 2010
Soon the daylight faded away, we also began hearing more interesting music; lately I began listening to some old death metal, and Hyperborea came right in time, the change in the musical spectrum, after the thrash part was most welcomed, the grind death of the Bulgarian band got a bit more of attention. With members older in age, and wearing Pestilence t-shirs, you can make an impression of the music. Not bad but still quite flat compositions and not a spectacular show, little interaction with the audience.

Concept Insomnia (GE) was a strange experience, the music style presented was metal I could hardly call progressive metal. In contrast with the former bands, the band seemed to feel very well on stage, a better attitude that some bands can learn from (especially Romanian ones). Too bad that the music was not on my taste at all. A light core metal I would not listen normally at all.

Kistvaen was for me one of the revelations of the festival, one of the few depressive black metal bands (Sorgnatt is another) from Romania. Overall the show was in tone with the music, great screamed voices and long set list, the requested \’bis\’ was not allowed by the organizers. The only negative point I would express is the sometimes repetitive (turns out to be boring at times) music parts. A bit of work at the music composition will definitely bring Kistvaen on the top of Romanian extreme metal bands. Probably with more concerts that will follow, some releases, I am sure this will count to refine their music.
Kistvaen, OST 2010

Funebre from Hungary was acceptable, \’true\’ black metal, flat in compositions and sound: the most negative part was the lack of a real drummer, and the creepy drum parts from the laptop. On the other hand the band were all painted and well suited for the show. So another band that has a lot to work to become more decent, going live is not easy, all the elements from the rightly done music to clothing, scene movement and lights have to create something unitary.

Grimegod is one of the oldest and most known gothic/doom/death metal from Romania (beginning nineties). I am surprised of the recent reunion. It was a great show, with band members over 30, but with love to play live, that can be seen from the attitude. It was a welcomed warm meeting with old fans (like me). Invited on the scene to sing along was another ‘old’ , “Castor” Lapusneanu from GOD band.

Negura Bunget was the band that also brought the rain with, unfortunatelly I could not stand in front of the scene but only for 3 tracks. The rest of the show I heard from my car, and I must say I liked it, it was a perfect combination of archaic black metal with thunders and rain. I was curious to hear how Negura Bunget sounds after the split. And the show was good, the new lineup meet the expectations of the audience. In meantime the band members changed again. I am not sure if with the current members something good as \”Varstele Pamantului\” will be released.
Funebre, OST 2010

Saturday 7 August 2010 the second day of the festival…

The second day was a bit more animated, also by the various activities organized in the valley (bike contests) and in town: the press conference was an opportunity to meet the bands. The next bands programmed for this day were presenting themselves and answered questions. Better say, the one and only band that actually was asked was Eisheilig and I was the only one to address some questions. It is somehow strange how poor the \’journalists\’ were prepared for the event overall. Of course much of them wanted to get an interview with Belphegor, which of course didn\’t happen.

Inopia, OST 2010
The sun was already burning (no more rain but mud overall). The first opening bands were: Inopia, Tiarra and Abigail. Again opening bands from Romania. The first one Inopia, adopting a gothic metal, with violin and flute is a good band, the young guys have a full release in 2009 and the music presented is pleasing overall. I know they are music students but this is not sufficient to also write really good music. I think they lack a bit of \’soul\’, simply a dream to make music does not mean copying the other thousand gothic/female bands out there.

Tiarra is a more experienced band, the music sounds better, their gothic also with female/violin has more feeling. The things began to look better. Abigail closed the starters part of the second day with a good show. Abigail is one of the oldest bands of death/doom from Romania.

Eisheilig, OST 2010
For me the musical highlights of this evening were Eisheilig. I would say they are a more gothic side of Rammstein…yes, exactly the same simple yet efficient style, a good portion of German industrial metal, it is a band I would like to see or listen again. The show was great, but leaved no particular impression on the audience. I was almost alone listening and communicating with the band (and the drummer).

Omega Lithium and Ashes You Leave left me cold. I do not know, although the scene movement was really animated, nice girls and clothing, the music was…I do not even remember. Probably it is the music for the newer generation, it seems to me that both bands sound much better in studio. With these two more shows the evening I think could be clearly called a female – gothic evening. These are the type of bands that have the very colored (with naked women) artwork. Sorry, but I\’m not buying it…

The much awaited event of the evening was Ava Inferi. The band of the known ex-Mayhem member Blasphemer. The music is very nice, but not very suitable for live I guess, it is dark, goth-metal with a good female voice, with an interesting scene acting and some additional effects. Not bad at all, but again this goth evening has tired me…and the rain was also there, not so intense but there.

Sunday 8 August 2010 the third and last day of the festival…
Many of the participants came only for the last day. And of course for Belphegor, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow and I would say also for GOD (one of the oldest Romanian band around, with many friends). And indeed this was the best evening, beginning with the Romanian Folk Metal bands: Carpatica, Bucium, Bucovina…it was a delight to hear also Romanian traditional tunes in the valley (even more traditional tunes than Negura Bunget). I think that Bucium is the best band around at the moment, that keeps a strict folkloric line within the music. Bucovina is playing viking metal with Romanian influences too.

The other two coming viking bands were Northland (POR) and Gwydion (NOR)…a good portion of true viking metal, the audience was greatly animated the culminating point was when Northland weaving the Romanian flag and promised to come back soon. The rain did not gave signs of stopping anytime soon, evenmore the trouble came when the next band had to take the scene, with a delay this happened. Under heavy rain I could hardly take some photos.

And because of the weather, GOD band was (I think it is not the first time) moved at the end of the evening and Eternal Tears Of Sorrow and Belphegor were the next announced. Eternal Tears Of Sorrow was a great surprise, for me it was a great show, their gothic/black metal was most enjoyable. Not to mention that the rain was for the first time very fit with the atmosphere created by the band. Magnificent! The members of the band were very friendly with the audience, a thanks was casted by Altti (ETOS\’s front man) to the organizers, and to their effort to bring the festival in the mountains. I couldn\’t agree more.

Belphegor needs no introduction, a true attitude (insulting the audience is something normal), blood painted bodies, a darkest atmosphere possible has saved the festival. Great death-black, professionally presented, perfectly executed (superb blasting – thumbs up for the drummer!) It was like hell descending in the mountains and it was indeed satanic metal at its greatest form. Well I recognized in one of the breaks between tracks, an Raison D\’etre intermezzo. Perfect!

It was epic, thunders and rally heavy metal, the audience was at the climax, some inverted crosses were part of the audience, hailing the band. That is what I was expecting from the festival…Belphegor were the right headliners.

Looking forward for the next edition in 2011. Confirmed acts for 2011: Onslaught (UK), Keep of Kalessin (Norway), The Foreshadowing (Italy), Dornenreich (Austria), Eufobia (Bulgaria), Winterhorde (Israel), Put Solnca (Russia), Insult (Poland), Action Bass Tom Band (Germany), E-Force (Canada), Stone (Romania), Deathdrive (Romania), Acral Necrosis (Romania), Bolthard (Romania)…and many more.