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Obscura: Gathering Momentum

The German tech-death metal band’s founder member Steffen Kummerer on how their latest album ‘Akróasis’ is the penultimate story of a life cycle

Anurag Tagat Feb 23, 2016
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Diving deep. (From left) Sebastian Lanser (drums), Steffen Kummerer (guitars/vocals), Linus Klausenitzer (bass) and Rafael Trujillo (guitars) of Obscura. Photo: Courtesy of Relapse Records.

Philosophy, religion and astrophysics sound like topics sprung out of a psychedelic band, but German technical death metal band Obscura make it sound every bit fierce as it can be. Frontman and founding member Steffen Kummerer says with a laugh over the phone from his Bavarian hometown of Landshut, “Well, we’re a metal band. We’re not a prog rock band from the Seventies.”

Kummerer founded Obscura as a prog death metal band in 2002, but it was only with their 2009 album Cosmogenesis that they broke into circles with a more technical sound. Kummerer, by then, had support from drummer Hannes Grossman and guitarist Christian Mueunzner from one of Germany’s biggest tech bands, Necrophagist. Their fourth album Akróasis, released on February 5th via Relapse Records, is the first without that lineup. Kummerer says, “I’m very grateful for their contributions and together we wrote very successful albums, but on the other hand, we have Linus [Klausenitzer, bassist], Rafael Trujillo [guitarist] and Sebastian Lanser [drummer] ”“ very talented musicians who brought a lot to the band so far. I don’t see a big change here ”“ just the next chapter.”

Cosmogenesis also became the first chapter of a four-album concept story that starts out with the creation of existence itself. Kummerer explains, “The second album [2011’s Omnivium] deals with evolution. The third album [Akróasis] is about consciousness, each and every individual, while the fourth album will be about the apocalypse. I choose different views from different philosophers, but I also choose different religious views. It’s multi-layered, in the end.”

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“We’re making our moves and trying to finally set foot in India… we want to book a full tour in India, not just one show or two festivals. I want to do a real tour.”

It’s been more than four years since Obscura released material, but a lot has been taking up Kummerer’s time ”“ first touring to promote the last album Omnivium and then being recruited for Death DTA, one of the most formidable tribute bands to American metal pioneers Death in 2012. After the Death DTA tour, Kummerer took half a year off to study media engineering. He says, “You know, surviving as a musician is hard these days and it’s pretty good to have a diploma in your pocket.”

When writing for Akróasis started, Kummerer took the title [meaning ”˜hearing’ or ”˜listening’ in old Greek] from a book written by Swiss academic Hans Kayser. The frontman says the album has to do with “the harmonic structure of our existence.” Sonically, the album sounds much more polished than their previous material, kicking off with the destructive “Sermon of the Seven Suns,” along with a hook-filled title track and jazz-influenced sections on “Fractal Dimension,” which also has prominent bass sections. Recorded entirely with their live gear, Obscura also said they have the most high-end production on Akróasis. Says Kummerer, “I was looking for more dynamics and more of a three-dimensional mix. Not just panning instruments left and right but also working with delay lines to put instruments back and forth in the panorama.”

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To support the album, Obscura have already lined up a Europe tour with Death DTA [which Kummerer is no longer part of] in March with more shows planned across the globe. Part of those plans include India, says Kummerer. He adds, “We’re making our moves and trying to finally set foot in India. We had got three offers in the last two years but either the band was on a break or we had no time at that point. We’re working on that though and we want to book a full tour in India, not just one show or two festivals. I want to do a real tour.”

He’s heard about India from Dutch jazz fusion/metal band Exivious. They played in India in 2014. Says Kummerer, “They told me it’s completely insane. If we’re playing a show there, if possible, I’d like to stay a couple of days and visit the cities and the countryside. This is the exciting thing about being a musician. Traveling and getting a bit more than just an industrial hall where you build up your gear and play a show. I’m really curious about it. I hear it’s a completely different world ”“ things work differently, but I’m very interested in that. I hope it works out.”

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