On the go since 1994 with a little hiatus in between, the band touch base on songs as far back as 2004; two tracks from the Back to Times of Splendor EP and the more recent Am Abgrund. The crowd are very gradually being warmed-up throughout the set, with some head nods going before a few cheers of recognition erupt when frontman and guitarist Andy Schmidt announces the song Tormento, (a track of the forthcoming album Ayam coming in November), after an extremely heartfelt thank you to the crowd and tour organisers.
Andorran progressive death metallers Persefone (Puh-seh-fuh-nee… there were some debates between friends about the pronunciation on the night!) have been making a positive name for themselves in the tech scene in recent years, with 2017’s release Aathma provoking positive reviews and much recognition.
The bands setlist provided a performance of songs from the more recent albums between this year’s Metanoia and touching back to 2013’s Spiritual Migration with setlist opener The Great Reality. While it may not be fully known, vocalist for this tour Daniel R. Flys actually attended BIMM in Dublin for a short stint in 2018 and is familiar with the Whelan’s stage.
During guitarists Filipe Baldaia and Carlos Lozano Quintanilla’s complex and technical riffs and solos, Flys opts to stay still, staring into the crowd with a smile on his face, despite being admittedly knocked sideways with a flu.
Gig-goers come out of their shell slightly more to engage in the bands off-stage antics, where guitarist Baldaia jumps into the crowd with Flys to get closer to the crowd for a performance. Aathma’s Living Waves introduction playing over the system gets a roar of recognition, with members of the crowd air-tapping and chugging along, while others create the first pit of the night. The band finish up after 2013’s Mind as a Universe, with the band expressing gratitude with thank you’s and hands raised up to create heart shapes.
Obscura have dealt with a generous change of scenery every time they’ve played Dublin, with the Bavarian technical death metallers covering most of the metal hosting venues throughout the years, between The Pint, The Academy, Tivoli, and VooDoo in 2019 being their last before tonight. This time around, it’s a slight step down in capacity with Whelan’s, however the intimacy, may have been what added that extra bit of charm to the night.
The crowd calmed down significantly after Persefone, with quite stiff members of the audience standing up the very front; perhaps trying to pay attention to returned guitarist Christian Muenzner’s (Alkaloid, Paradox, ex-Necrophagist, ex-Spawn of Possession) complex riffs and licks – Muenzner was diagnosed with focal dystonia back around 2011, a disorder which affects his dexterity and resulted in a forced change of playing ability – perhaps some of the crowd may have been curious to see up-close what his new approach was.
The band don their renowned plain black clothing for the performance, with vocalist and guitarist Steffen Kummerer for this tour using an old-school microphone and brandishing a handmade prototype made by ESP in his signature guitar shape.
The performance touched on a range of different songs from different eras of Obscura, with earlier fans getting a surprise performance of The Anticosmic Overload pushed up the order of the setlist compared to it usually being part of the encore. Some passers-by outside the venue, who weren’t metal fans, wandered in to be met with duelling solos and a number of people crowd surfing and staying held in the air by the crowd (because there was no room to surf them to the stage) much to the amusement of Kummerer and the crowd alike.
In terms of needing protection, the sound for this show was notably easy on the ears – however after a wander around the venue different instruments could be heard in the forefront, depending on where you were standing.
It’s not a mystery that the lockdown had quite an effect on touring bands, as Kummerer, in between songs, reiterates Disillusions Andy Schmidt’s gratitude towards fans for supporting the bands during the last two years. Obscura definitely know how to market their merchandise, with a generous variety for sale on the merch desk between vinyl, CDs, branded guitar straps and even simple branded earplugs.
“This is the last song.. but it’s a very good one!” Kummerer jokes before the band drill into A Valediction’s When Stars Collide, before the inevitable encore – a treat of their top songs Septuagint, which creates a chaotic and hilarious upbeat crowd of one-man crowd surfing and a friendly mosh-pit, before the band wrap up with Cosmogenesis’ Incarnated. The crowd leave in good spirits singing praises to the night; impressed at the performance, the intimacy, and the soul of the Irish metal scene who were adamant to have a good time despite the small capacity.
Nora Kivlehan – words & photos