Sunday, March 22, 2020

SEMBLANT: "Obscura"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2020
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

I've got all the things that I'm "allowed" to mention written down when it comes to Frontiers and their releases. It's usally words such as pink, fluffy, melodic, catchy, hairmetal, AOR, shoulder pads, and several cans of extremely sticky hairspray. Imagine my surprise when Sergio 'Cookie Monster' Mazul came through my loud speakers with growls and howls in the tradition of Black and Death Metal. Now, please don't go thinking early 90's stuff and church burning psycho freaks from Norway. It's v-e-r-y melodic stuff, music-wise, and they have the clean female vocalist Mizhuo Lin at the very centre of attention.

In fact. Their only brutal take at the scene would be the 'every-now-and-then' growls by Mazul. I wouldn't even categorize this as melodic death metal (as mentioned in the press-release), it's more or less traditional melodic (symphonic) metal with a sidekick growler. Strange genre disasters apart, Frontiers provides the backing and Semblant are merely doing what any other band debuting their music would do (Obscura is their third album though), and taking full advantage of whatever kind of cash and marketing that a melodic Italo label can afford to splash on the so-called Melodic Death Metal band from Brazil. Ehem. It's not looking great when typed down and it might just be a strange combo?

Nonetheless. It's all about the music and it's actually quite darn good. Obscura takes catchy riffage of Neo-classical and symphonic acts and sets it aside a stylistic range that combines a meaningful grasp of female fronted 'Goth' and atmospheric horror and excellent growls. Sure. Something like "Wallachia" might just include too many growls for the average melodic fan. However. It's all very nicely done and I'd like to think of it as watching the great horror flick. It fits the concept as well as the story of the lord of the shadows. It's a real grower (and growler) of an album and and tracks such as Murder of Crows, Control The Masters, Daydream Tragedy, etc. show a band outgrowing any of the genres that people care to throw in their faces. Mizuho Lin is a proper belter of an vocalist and it's overall a very pleasant surprise of metal. Goody!!

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