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Superior Enlightenment - "The Great Obscurantism" (CD)

Superior Enlightenment - "The Great Obscurantism" CD cover image

"The Great Obscurantism" track listing:

1. Novus Incompositus Seclorum (5:40)
2. Digital Holocaust (4:53)
3. Ineffable Winds of Neptune (3:53)
4. Cesspool (5:52)
5. Divided They Fall (6:20)
6. Golden Ratio (5:04)
7. Not to Be (4:37)
8. The Burden (5:32)
9. To Fucking Execrate (3:13)

Reviewed by on August 3, 2009

"From opener 'Novus Incompositus Seclorum' to the ending track 'To Fucking Execrate,' the disc is one long streak of violent blast beats, rampaging guitars, and furious extreme vocals."

It’s extremely fitting that an album like “The Great Obscurantism” was released through a record label called “Mankind’s Demise.” Perhaps Superior Enlightenment should have added an addendum to their name that the cost of their knowledge is severe head trauma and visions of an unstoppable apocalypse. There is nothing subtle or understated about the Canadian band’s brand of metal, which is a devastating force of utter annihilation. They’ve been compared to both Belphegor and Behemoth, and those comparisons do work in a lot of instances. “The Great Obscurantism” is unrelentingly heavy death metal, and even though it shares some similarities with black metal, it most definitely doesn’t sit on the symphonic end of the spectrum.

From opener “Novus Incompositus Seclorum” to the ending track “To Fucking Execrate,” the disc is one long streak of violent blast beats, rampaging guitars, and furious extreme vocals. There may or may not be some bass somewhere in all that absurdly heavy noise, but if there is it had a hard time making itself known. The vocal style alternates liberally between higher pitched shrieks, extremely low growls, tortured screaming, and a slightly more “clean” yelling that is coarse enough to still fit in death metal.

To complement the alternating vocals there are a few melodic tricks that prevent the album from getting completely lost in the blasting sounds. “Ineffable Winds of Nepture” begins with laid back guitars and various mechanical sound effects that bring to mind some sort of steam engine. The song seems like it’s about to take a trip into seriously progressive territory when suddenly the ungodly heavy guitars and drums break in without any sort of transition. It’s quite a shame that the sound effects and toned down style didn’t get worked into the rest of the song, as it had the opportunity to be something much greater than it ended up as.

Several of the other tracks also suffer from the oddly abrupt transitions. “Divided They Fall” and “Golden Ratio” have such unexpected endings that the listener may end up wondering if there was something wrong with the disc. “Not To Be” has another interesting melodic segment with an acoustic guitar, but it also switches back into the heavier sound without any sort of warning, which is jarring. “The Burden” is the only offering on the album that properly meshes the lighter sounds with the relentlessly brutal feel of the album, with several pace changes that keep the song engaging.

Superior Enlightenment prove in several instances that they don’t need to use the more melodic aspects to make their music compelling, however. “To Fucking Execrate” has an outstanding segment where a mechanical sound effect and a rapid-fire guitar riff switch off between the left and right speakers repeatedly. The listener may need to be wearing headphones to get the full effect, but that one section of the song alone makes the album worth hearing.

“The Great Obscurantism” has top notch musicianship and plenty of short melodic moments that make the whole thing worth a listen. Unfortunately the non-stop blast beating and slightly repetitive nature of the music do take it down a notch. Fans of extreme metal who care less about melody and more about brutality may just find themselves a new favorite band in Superior Enlightenment.

Highs: Crushing guitar work, a few outstanding moments with the mechanical sound effects.

Lows: Blast beating is pretty much non-stop and gets repetitive after the first two or three songs, the transitions are frequently botched.

Bottom line: Massively heavy and completely unyielding death metal with some interesting mechanical sound effects interspersed.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)