Viscera – Obsidian Review

In Hollywood, there’s a phenomenon called “twin films.” Sometimes movies released around the same time have an uncannily similar plot, even though they’ve been in production around the same time and couldn’t have copied one another. A few well-known examples include Armageddon and Deep Impact, Antz and A Bug’s Life, and The Prestige and The Illusionist. Now, considering the frequency of release and inherent similarities, this isn’t really a thing in metal, but it still gave me pause when I noticed I was about to go through the second Unique Leader techy deathcore release with wav format tracks in just a handful of weeks. Like Xenobiotic before, there were some expectations for Viscera, its members’ pedigree proven in bands such as Heart of a Coward, Sylosis and Martyr Defiled. But is it indeed worthwhile, or is it just A Shark’s Tale to Xenobiotic‘s Finding Nemo?

Thankfully, Obsidian is a pretty killer record and, despite its superficial similarities, is quite a different beast from Mordrake. Whereas that album was a progressive, emotional journey, Viscera‘s style has an effect more akin to Dyscarnate, with mid-paced, testosterone-fueled riffs, embellished with bursts of technical intensity and emotive clean vocals. In fact, one could argue that structurally, Viscera leans toward actual metalcore, particularly in the way the Killswitch-adjacent clean vocals are largely used to accessorize the choruses and give them a more immediate hook. However, the pounding, crunching textures, double-layered roar and bludgeoning breakdowns prevent the melodic elements from diminishing the impact.

At 35 minutes, it’s a record with absolutely zero fat. “Lilith” comes the closest, but it does a good job ramping up for the title track, which is perfectly balanced between addictive vocal hooks for shouting along and syncopated riffs for snapping your neck in two. But for such a short record, there’s a lot of variety to go around, from the furious stomps of “Immersed in Ire” to the Genus Ordinis Dei-like symphonic licks of the cheesy “Carpe Noctem.” It’s deathcore at its most accessible; the flip-side of which, of course, is that it doesn’t have necessarily as much depth or originality as some of the more unique examples of the style.

However, the execution is so solid all the way through that it’s hard to hold its simplicity against the album too much. The riffs are basic and chug-heavy, but they’re played with tons of energy that’s impossible to resist. Though there initially appears to be some technical complexity, it’s mostly contained to flourishes that increase the intensity without throwing off the groove. With screams, growls, shouts, and cleans layered in different proportions, the vocal section brings a big range of styles and plenty of diversity. Additionally, the production is simply excellent. The master is crisp and clear, yet retains plenty of weight to throw around. The clarity of the sound helps preserve the contrast when the impact of the hefty riffs is set against the scale-running acrobatics, and the balance of the vocals, guitars, bass and drums is impeccable.

Viscera’s debut is more than just a promising first try. Obsidian is a masterclass in making music that is both pulverizingly heavy and accessibly catchy. With not a second wasted and all the fat trimmed, it’s an incredibly easy album to spin on a loop, and the great production keeps that loop from becoming tiring. It doesn’t have a ton of depth or emotional engagement, but it’s a great little album to press some benches to and spells very good things for a band that’s bound to make major waves in deathcore.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 1411 kbps wav
Label: Unique Leader Records
Releases Worldwide: March 6th, 2020

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