Obliteration – Black Death Horizon (2013)

There is a tangible aspect of psychological devolution to this music. Obliteration, especially in the sections where they slow down, make poignant use of string bends, lingering harmonics, and jarring dissonance to induce a feeling of mental disintegration in the listener. These parts are frequently reduced to little but filler when applied injudiciously by lesser bands but here create a distinct transposition of a madness of the psych wards onto the music. Arranging these excursions around a traditional foundation of Swedish death metal, Obliteration slowly but surely pull the strings on their bag of plenty over the course of an album, waylaying the unsuspecting listener into a cul-de-sac that confronts him with unrealized fears. Songs are delectably stretched out to let these themes develop appropriately, resembling a yawning chasm that could swallow a planet; in many ways, the music of Obliteration and the others owes its existence to the otherworldly strangeness of a Demilich, in its appeal to the curiosities inside the subconscious and in its willing embrace of unconventional textures and progressions.

Pseudo-industrial touches through barely detectable noise and savagely-picked, drawn-out two note tremolo runs are used in service of the discombobulating, statically-charged effect the band strives for. Obliteration completely eschew the dilution in tone that most retro-fused bands in the Swedish vein feel impelled towards; while there were signs to this end on Nekropsalms, there is no let up on Black Death Horizon once the band has its pincers in. Guitar solos, based as ever around exotic scales, are sounds from a Frank Herbert novel, uncoiling snakes dancing to the strains of some extra terrestrial flute. The ideal way to look at an Obliteration record is through a lens that accords a distilled view of the better developments in extreme metal over the last ten years. The band adroitly maintains this admixture, without losing sight of their roots, creating a shade that is death on the inside, truly.

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