After releasing a few demos over the last three years, Finnish metallers Obscure begin their journey in 2018 through the murky waters of sludge, the sterile plains of stoner rock, and the acid trips of ‘70s hard rock with their Debut EP Zero Dawn. Overall, the sound of the album is plain stoner, hard rock with heavy riffs – not so much with the fat, fuzzy sound of pure stoner, but still you can hear the typical valvular sound of the guitars. J. Heiskanen’s drums are clear and sound like the old Ludwig drum sets but with a modern mix. The bass is there, providing a solid foundation on the low end of the sound by J. Louhisto. Vocalist-in-charge P. Veteli is powerful and dramatic with a small resemblance of John Garcia and Messiah Marcolin in a more straightforward hard rock style. Rounding out the group are E. Hämäläinen and E. Piirainen, both on guitar. Without further ado let’s enter into the album.
The album opens with Zero Dawn, a powerful and direct song that starts with a heavy hard rock/stoner riff. At first glance we can clearly hear their influences as their sound resembles to Kyuss, Ghost, post-Blood Mountain era Mastodon, and Red Fang. Even so, it sounds like Prehistoric Dog from the aforementioned Red Fang. Drums, guitars, and bass form a wall of heavy sounding bricks and valvular cement before the Veteli’s vocals add the fury and the melody needed to uplift an already energetic song. The bridge enters with the drummer only hitting the floor tom while the guitars use a new riff on the same tone until the chorus breaks in with tremendous force. The vocals almost never stop in the entire song; from the beginning during the bridge and the chorus, Veteli shows a pretty impressive vocal endurance. The modus operandi is repeated a few times in the song: verse, bridge, chorus. It is a great and energetic song – simple yet effective.
The second song is called Low Low Down and it starts again with a chugging rock riff from the guitars while the hi-hat marks the beat from behind. This intro lasts for a few seconds until the drums enter in full force alongside the vocals. In this case, Veteli’s vocals are much more dramatic, operatic, Marcolin style and maybe a little bit like Henrik Brockman’s vocals from his Evil Masquerade era. The chorus enters with a riff that slides in between chords giving a Ghost-like vibe that prevails through the entire song. After two rounds of the V-B-C formula, we can find a break in the form of a calm guitar/drum (toms, to be precise) duet, building to the full rock mode from before. Finally, the riff from the beginning is repeated until the drums call it quits with a bang to the cymbals.
The third and last song is called River, and is clearly a mix between the two previous songs. You have the strength and direct approach from Zero Dawn but combining it with Veteli’s dramatic vocals and the sliding chords from Low Low Down. After the verse-bridge-chorus formula repeats twice, there is small break that includes guitars only, then bass, and then the mandatory break with the guitars-drums duet building up to one final repetition of the powerful chorus. It ends with a similar riff that was in the break, but slowed down until it finally ends with a few strokes to the cymbals along the guitars and bass.
My final thought is that is a quite good effort from these Finnish hard rockers, taking inspiration from stoner and 70’s hard rock and building it up into direct, simple and powerful songs. I am definitely looking forward to their next releases.
If like what you read and what you hear, then go and buy their stuff, go to their concerts, and support them in any way you can.