Obscene – From Dead Horizon to Dead Horizon Review

Obscene‘s debut The Inhabitable Dark hit in the midst of a grand revival of old school death worship at the House of Steel. It packed a big, ugly punch and mined the rarefied territory of Obituary, Hail of Bullets and Asphyx for all they were worth. It had just the right amount of nastiness and extremity and the songs were short and sweet too. The WAY over-the-top vocals by Kyle Shaw were a win for me, but some of my AMG colleagues thought they were too WAY over-the-top. That was nonsense of course, and I spent a lot of time with The Inhabitable Dark. This month we got the followup, From Dead Horizon to Dead Horizon and I found myself giddy to hear what kind of vile charms they had in store. While the end product is recognizable, the band made some modifications and tweaks to their sound over the last 2 years. Are these positive adjustments or something else? We should figure that out together in a learning environment defined by caring and sharing. I kid. I will just tell you and expect you to agree.

After the prerequisite eerie intro piece, Obscene is back to get nasty with “I Shall Drink the Earth’s Blood” and though much is the same, there are new elements present. It opens more as a melodic melodeath tune before launching into OSDM heavy grooves. Kyle Shaw still sounds unhinged, walking the line between John Tardy, Martin van Drunen and a drunk ferret, but the music itself is more restrained and modern sounding. It never ramps up fully to the levels of extremity and ugliness heard on The Inhabitable Dark and feels a bit tame despite some crushing grooves and howling, yawling vocals. “Deathless Demigod” offers battering ram riffs and Bolt Thrower-like forward momentum, and as things plow along the band introduces fancy Testament-esque solos that almost feel out of place. And again, the song never seems to hit that next gear of manic scuzz-bucket intensity heard on the debut. It’s laid back death.

From there, things course-correct somewhat, with varying degrees of intensity and rigor. Cuts like “Faith Through Pain” and “Children of the Static” hit well with caustic riffs, ear abusing cat-torture voKILLS. and enough piss and apple cider vinegar to please most death heads. The problem throughout From Dead Horizons is that the material simply feels less ferocious than the debut, with several songs skewing toward the generic end of the OSDM pool and only a couple of numbers I would call true highlights. The album is only 32 minutes (as was the debut) and this one is padded out with intro and outro pieces that account for 3 minutes. It’s still a decently entertaining (and brief) spin, but I’m not anywhere near as gobsmacked by the material as I was with the last release.  Dan “the fookin’ MAN” Swanö’s master is quite tasty though, with plenty of percussive energy. I would prefer the vocals were more upfront, but otherwise, all sounds dandy.

Speaking of vocals, Kyle Shaw still sounds like a human rabies factory. While he’s taken some of the edge off his vocal attack and restrains himself somewhat, he still sounds like he retching up the world’s largest hairball. He will still be the love or hate factor for listeners, and his delivery can grow annoying on certain tracks like “The Burrowing Hiss,” but I still enjoy what he does. Mike Morgan still has some potent riff magic in the tank, hurling crushing grooves and tank-busting chugs at the wall. He dabbles in dissodeath on “Shrew’s Nest” and at one point or another touches on every facet of death metal from Rick Rozz caveman leads on to tech-death showmanship. The issue is that not all the songs punch at their weight class, and there’s a curious feeling that something is missing throughout much of the album’s runtime. A missing “it” factor if you will.

I was pretty stoked for a new slab of Obscene materials and though I’ll get some mileage from it, the sophomore curse has struck again and From Dead Horizon to Dead Horizon is a noticeable step down from their brain-pulpifying debut. The addition of a more nuanced, polished approach and weaker writing drags the enjoyment factor down, though the core of the band’s effectiveness is still there. At least they don’t sound like they’ve verging on a Hail of Bullets clone anymore. Silver linings at dead horizons.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Blood Harvest
Websites: obscenedeathmetal.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/obsceneDM
Releases Worldwide: May 27th, 2022

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