German black death Viking metallers Obscurity have recently released their new self-titled album. This 16 year old band has been very productive since 2000, when its first album was out. They have released 6 full-length albums so far, never letting their fans down. Let’s find out what their bassist and one of their founding members, Ziu has to say about the band, their latest work and what are their future plans.
- Hi Ziu, it’s great honor to have this interview with you. Would you like to introduce Obscurity to our readers? How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard of you?
Oh, thank you very much. It’s an honor to have this interview. Well, it’s always hard to give a satisfying answer on this question. We aren’t located in a specific genre. We play a mix of death / black metal with elements of thrash and traditional metal. Furthermore one cannot say that we are a pagan metal band in general. We don’t have any flutes, harps and other mumbo jumbo instruments. We use mainly traditional metal instruments. If you listen to our music you get a metal artillery sound and no hummpa hummpa troll stuff for drinking parties. Sometimes we got compared with Amon Amarth, but that is not correct in our opinion. There may be similarities in sound and the marching route of our music, but the both of us have specific sounds. If you buy an Obscurity record you’ll get a battle metal punch on your ears. Battle metal is what we call our style since the very first days in 1997. Furthermore our band consists of 5 members and we always give our best to serve you an authentic, energetic and enjoyable live-performance.
- Your latest work “Obscurity” was recently released. Tell us a few words about this album? Is this a typical Obscurity work? Are there any new elements in your sound?
The last three or four albums always a have a struggle between aggressiveness and epic. On one record is the aggressive part more distinct and the next record may be more epic again. As these two aspects are, more or less the definition of our music, we think that’s quite normal and very welcome. As far as it concerns the “Obscurity” album I can tell you that it combines all of our qualities in a more mature work with the epic side winning the distinct pole position and without losing any heaviness or anything else.
- How is the new album received by fans and press so far? Are you satisfied with it?
Hmm, we knew that we have a good and variable album with “Obscurity”, so yes we hoped to get a satisfying feedback from some specialized magazines. What we did not expect, was the extensive very good feedback from, let’s name them die-hard black metal magazines and magazines which normally work more with the very traditional metal music. We are very satisfied and grateful for the very positive and often exuberant reviews. The general feedback makes us very proud and reveals that we are still on a good way to celebrate our beloved metal, as we are nothing more than metal fans who try to provide a very own contribute to the music of Heavy Metal which we are all part of. And that’s the point where have to thank all of our fans and writers and so forth. Thank you guys!
- Is there any specific concept on “Obscurity”? Where does the thematology of your lyrics come from in general?
The artwork and music of the new album “Obscurity” are based on a coherent overall concept. After “In Nomine Patris”, that awakens the listener dealing with the church and christianization, the album’s title track follows. “Obscurity” is a sing-along anthem that comes as a catchy and traditional piece of metal. “Germanenblut”, “Strandhogg” and “Ensamvarg”, as can be expected from the titles, hit you with Nordic thunderstorms which will make your blood boil. “Ensamvarg” is an homage to Quorthon. “Blutmondzeit”, “Jörmungandr”, “Weltenbrand” and “Fimbulwinter” are a lyrical concept about the four eschatological disasters. In northern mythology these are the prelude to the doom of the gods. The subsequent song “Kein Rückzug” is triggered off like a raging fire that will serve mosh pits in front of the stages. Everything will be cauterized for no one to escape. As on all Obscurity records the last song is a very special get-out track. “So Endet meine Zeit” comes as a surprise since it features softer, darker sounds, yet without lacking heaviness and gloomas. It deals with a warrior’s final journey to Valhalla. In this song we took the opportunity to incorporate symphonic tunes without flourishes.
- Are there any new members in your band? I know that even if you are a quite old band, you had very few line-up changes so far. How do you explain this?
Hehe, well not really. Over the past 16 years we had some changes. At first our guitarist Dornaz had to step out of the band on his very own wish because he had not enough time to focus on music due to his very time-consuming job. That happened in 2003 and luckily we could immediately win Cortez, a long-time friend of us for the vacant guitarist spot. In the year 2008 our singer Nezrac had to quit his job for the band due to some major shifts in his life and Agalaz, our other guitarist jumped in as our new singer. After some weeks Dornaz was able to rejoin the band because his job wasn’t that time-consuming anymore like some years ago. That may sound a bit confusing, but I can assure you that we chose the best ways and we are all still brothers in crime, hehe. I can explain the few major shifts in Obscurity’s line-up only with the brotherhood of Obscurity. We are friends for about thirty years now and there’s only very little that can come between us.
- Obscurity started back in 1997. What do you remember from those times? What were your main influences and which were your ambitions?
Oh, I remember a lot of chaos and power. When we started the band we had very little experience in playing our instruments and almost none experience in creating music. Personally, the day we came together as a band, was the very first day I ever held a bass-guitar in my hands. The very first years we almost did the training we need to grow up as a band and musicians. We never had any special influences, it was all natural and if you can hear some similarities on our records to other bands, well that’s not planned and happens only on accident. Our ambitions at that time were quite clear and were the same as almost all young bands have: world domination! Hahaha!
- How did you come up with this name? There were more than ten bands with your name. By the way, I think all of them, except for one, have split up! Have you ever thought of changing your name?
Well, you must not forget that the internet as we know it nowadays wasn’t available at that time. There was no Facebook, no MySpace, no Wikipedia and almost no secure information about Heavy Metal bands. The only medias we had were very few print magazines and a weekly 2-hour TV show on MTV. The Obscurity bands that existed at that time were only rehearsal-room bands like us and the Swedish Obscurity with their demo from early 1990s wasn’t really available to us. That means, we just didn’t know of other bands with the same name and we learned about them years later. Well, that’s the reason why we thought the name “Obscurity” was quite original. We never really thought about changing the name because it fits perfectly to our music, as one cannot put us and our music in a very stereotype metal genre.
- I think Obscurity is the first band for all of you. Was any of you in other bands before, or did you all started you music “career” with Obscurity?
Some of us started two to three years earlier in a school-cover-band. Later some of us went together in a jam session cover band for about maybe one year. When we formed the band which became eventually Obscurity, in 1997, 4 of us had two to three years of experience in music-making.
- What do you think now of your debut album “Bergisch Land” back in 2000? What are the differences you see compared to your current sound?
Our debut album “Bergisch Land” is still some kind milestone of our career, as we learned that we are able to create music we want to listen to and you can even get an idea about the music / sound we play today. Furthermore it was the record which really give us the kick-start for the Obscurity brotherhood and our ambitions to provide our very own contribute to our beloved Heavy Metal scene. Yep, you must not forget, that we are always metalheads and just musicians who play metal accidentally, hehe.
Besides our two earlier demos, this album was the first major manifestation of our development in terms of putting forth our abilities in creating music / sound / lyrics. If one would own all of our records it’s quite obvious that we managed to increase the quality of our music / sound and lyrics on each album. Furthermore our music developed during the first three albums from being black metal with death metal influences over black / death metal to the mix of death metal with heavy black metal and some more traditional / thrash metal influences. That’s quite a ride and doesn’t allow one to put Obscurity into a stereotype genre. We made the experience that we reach metalheads from all metal genres and even from the very first days we called our music “Battle Metal” because we think this describes our music the best, as well as our lyrics and in conclusion everything what’s Obscurity standing for.
- You released “Thurisaz” in 2003 via Twilight Vertrieb and “Schlachten & Legenden” in 2007 via Massacre Records. What are your memories from these works? Why did you change labels between each release?
“Thurisaz” was recorded in the same studio as “Bergisch Land” was recorded. For both records we had the same recording process which gave us the opportunity to cement our technical experience. By that time we had no record label but could win Twilight Vertrieb as a distributor for the “Thurisaz” album. The “Schlachten & Legenden” album was recorded at another studio which allowed us to get new experiences in terms of recording processes and so forth. That was a point in our career where we had reached another level with Obscurity. As we weren’t satisfied with the Twilight Vertrieb we went to Massacre Records which offered us another distribution deal for the “Schlachten & Legenden” album. That was just a deal for that album and when we meet the guys from our current label, we didn’t extend the work with Massacre. But that doesn’t mean that we weren’t satisfied with Massacre’s work. “Schlachten & Legenden” brought further feedback from media and fans from beyond the German-speaking regions.
- Your next 2 albums “Várar” in 2009 and “Tenkterra” in 2010 were released by your current label Trollzorn / SMP Records, who also released your latest album. What has changed this time in your music?
Well, the “Schlachten & Legenden” album marks the point in our career where we found the music / sound which is valid since nowadays. “Várar” and “Tenkterra” are the logical continuation with the development in getting better in terms of the quality of sound, as we found another perfectly fitting studio, as well as in terms of quality of our lyrics. So, for the last three albums we found the perfect team and equipment to record our albums and I think you can hear the immediate shift to a 2 levels higher class of quality in our music / sound / lyrics.
- Are you satisfied with the support and distribution your band had so far, or are you heading for something bigger in the future?
Ah well, I cannot really talk about that right now. We are satisfied with the support by our record label and other supporters right now and actually we don’t have a real reason to change things. There are some offers which have to be considered, but we do that together with our collaboration partners. We’ll find the best way for Obscurity altogether.
- How is Obscurity on stage? Why should a metalhead attend one of your live performances? What should he expect?
Hehe, because you will get a real punch in the head and a kick in the ass at our shows. We’re always having fun performing live. That’s the best aspect of being in a band for us. You always the best from us. When we go on stage we give all the power and passion we got, and that’s a lot! Our goal is to entertain you with a real firework of heavy metal and a powerful stage acting. We want to give you an metal evening to remember! And we normally achieve this goal!
- Are there any gigs and tours planned for 2013? Would you like to give some info to your fans?
Yes, there are a couple of single and festival shows already approved and we have a some more in the pipeline. Actually we are talking about another European Tour, we are still away from being in the state of planning this tour. Just check our websites and you will learn more.
- Is the band preparing anything new, or is it to early?
Nothing new so far. We want to have a nice festival / concert season in 2013 and then we will maybe plan a next album, hehe. Maybe you can expect a video or some other stuff in the next few months. We got some more in the pipeline but yet it’s to early to talk about that, sorry!
- What should we expect from Obscurity in the future? Are you satisfied with your current sound? Are there any thoughts for experimentation, or music redirection?
You can expect that we will stay Obscurity as you know it, but we’ll keep freshness and originality to our music / sound.
- Thank you for your time. I wish you all the best. Last words are yours.
I thank you for having this interview. It’s always a pleasure. I hope you guys enjoy what you read here and that we maybe will meet at a live-show some day. Take care and metal on! To all of you!