Max Marginal is a man on a mission to bring the Algerian extreme metal scene to a global audience. As the creative force behind death metal technicians, Silent Obsession, his project is now an ensemble of four musicians with an album in the works. The group enjoyed their first taste of recognition after releasing 2020’s Lost EP and are now back with a second EP to satiate appetites. It may be only two songs in length if we discount the intro track, but Countdown is a furious piece of technical metal.
The first notable change from the Lost EP is the emphasis on agitated groove and mood over bludgeoning brutality. ‘End of an Era’ starts with an offbeat time signature and two intricate guitars talking to each other in the language of droning dissonance. We’re in pure tech-death territory when the low gutturals enter the mix, but the drums slip into a powerful d-beat pattern and follow the crunch of the guitars like modern day Decapitated experimenting with the looser rhythms of Voivod. Seldom do they gear up into blast beats, nor do they find it necessary to achieve their purpose here. The music is intricate and pulsating. Listen to the sophistication of the two guitars panned in each speaker. Overcooked technical death metal this is not.
‘Exhausted Resources’ is more reminiscent of modern-day Pestilence. The crunchy tremolo patterns remind you why death metal is superior to black metal – you can still hear the thrash origins in this type of music. Max Marginal takes inspiration from the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max for his lyrical themes, none of which are difficult to guess when glancing at the song titles. The contrasting vocals range between deep grunts and agonising mid-range growls and keep the listener on edge. Yet, take these out of the equation, and the music could be from a mid-90s Death album. It’s befuddling and enthralling at the same time and never neglectful of the need to remain heavy despite the numerous tempo changes.
As a country famous for its sturdy Berber peasant race, its surplus of footballers that end up playing for the French national team, and one of the most brutal colonial wars of the twentieth century, Algeria is the last place you’d expect to find an imaginative extreme metal band. Maybe that is about to change with Silent Obsession’s emergence from the shores of North Africa. There’s no doubt this is death metal, but it hints at something more – something that’s still in flux but could flourish into a distinct sound.
Release Date: 15/07/2021
Record Label: Self Released
Standout track: End of an Era
Suggested Further Listening: Pestilence – Exitivm (2021), Psycroptic – The Inherited Repression (2012), Dead Exaltation – Despondent (2021)