Swedish Death Metal
CoC chats with Daniel Vala of Obscurity
by: Yulon Zhu
Old-school death metal is a favorite of mine. Long before I got into all of this newer death metal, there were bands like Autopsy, Death, Possessed, Morbid Angel and Incantation for me to bang my head to. I never strayed too far from the American scene back then, and only recently have I realized just how much I was missing out on. Obscurity is a prime example of the glory of the European death metal scene in the '80s. With only two years of activity and no live shows until 2007, of course this band has stayed pretty much under the radar as a cult classic amongst mainly Swedish death-metallers.

With death-core and tech-death being so popular nowadays, real old-school death fans now appear to be some clandestine cult of people who still use tapes, have a vinyl collection and curse whenever they hear a breakdown. So, when I got a mail from the band to do an interview, I was glad to shine the well deserved spotlight on Obscurity.

CoC: Hello, how are you doing?

Daniel Vala: Great.

CoC: Care to share a brief history of the band for any readers who are unfamiliar with Obscurity?

DV: Obscurity started up in Malmö in the south of Sweden in 1985 with Dani Vala (bass and vocals), Jörgen Lindhe (guitar) and Janne Johansson (guitar). In those days it was hard to find a drummer. In 1986 we realesed our first six track demo _Ovations of Death_. We still had no drummer; Lindhe and Janne did the drumwork. The demo got fine reviews. In 1987 came the second demo _Damnations Pride_. It contained four tracks. This time we had a drummer called Valle. The songs sounded better and were better played. _Damnations Pride_ got great reviews and is still coveted. The band broke up in 1988, but CDs and a couple of vinyl 7" were post-released in the '90s. In 2007 Obscurity got together again with a new drummer: Martin Brorsson. We have played with bands like Watain and Nifelheim in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Malmö. We are now working on a new album.

CoC: Your latest release came out over ten years ago and it was a best of compilation of demos and a couple of unreleased tracks entitled _Damnations Pride_. Why did the band decide to release a "best of"?

DV: The label company wanted to release a CD, and we didn't want to re-record the old songs again. We just put the original songs on the CD.

CoC: What is the current status on the availability of Obscurity releases?

DV: There is no availability. Everything is sold out.

CoC: What circumstances, that you wish to share, led to the 10+ year hiatus?

DV: We had never played live. That was the main reason and the biggest goal. Number two was to make new songs.

CoC: Moving on from the past, there is a new album in the works! Is it going to be pretty much the same Obscurity as in the late '90s, or will you pull a Celtic Frost and completely dismantle your old sound?

DV: Hahaha... Hell no! We will try to sound as brutal and dark as possible.

CoC: Do you have anything written so far? I read in another interview that you and Jorgen wrote much of the earlier music. Has that changed now?

DV: It is the same writers now. Jörgen Lindhe writes more lyrics now than before.

CoC: So, is there an unofficial due date for it?

DV: Not exactly. We hope that the recordings are finished later this year.

CoC: How did you meet your new drummer Martin Brorsson? Did any of the members participate in other projects after Obscurity?

DV: Jörgen Lindhe and Martin Brorsson played together in a couple of metalbands since 1993 (Flegma, Redrvm and S.K.U.R.K). Flegma released two albums in the '90s. S.K.U.R.K released an album in 2006 and still exists.

CoC: I looked at an older picture of the band and I didn't see any corpse paint. However, with the live photos, you have it on, although it is in a non-typical form. Is this a new thing for you guys to wear corpse paint, or did I just happen to look at a "bare" photo of you?

DV: In the older pictures there was just a couple guys with lots of hair in their face. And until last year we had never performed live. This is how Obscurity looks on stage. We would certainly have looked like this twenty years ago if we had played live then. We wanted to make something extra of the live show, not just walk up on stage and play the songs in jeans and a T-shirt. Don't you agree?

CoC: I see you guys played at Maiden Massacre Fest Norway in May. Was that one of the only shows you've played during the break up time or have you been active in live performances?

DV: We have only made four gigs ever. All of them were played in 2008. The first one was I Stockholm (C 44), then Copenhagen (The Rock), Oslo (Maiden Massacre) and Malmö (KB). Some of the bands we played with where Watain, Nifelheim and At the Gates.

CoC: Will there be any touring or shows happening again soon?

DV: We want to play live again, but we want to concentrate on the new songs and the recording process.

CoC: Being part of the extreme metal scene in the 1980s and 90s, how would you describe the Swedish metal scene when Obscurity first formed?

DV: In the 80s there weren't any other bands, except for us. But the scene is slowly growing enormously.

CoC: Did or do you have any close ties with other Swedish bands that are still alive and well? Were there any local acts that you thought would have lasted longer than they did?

DV: Not really. We lived too far away from Sweden's capital, where all the other bands were living and breathing. In Malmö there weren't any bands who played as brutal as we did. But we often went to Copenhagen in Denmark to watch bigger bands like Slayer, Venom, Exodus and Kreator.

CoC: Are there any bands or albums you consider favorites?

DV: Bathory, Slayer, Venom, Possessed, Celtic Frost, Nifelheim, Watain. Satyricon.

CoC: Here's a question I like to ask death and black metal bands, especially the older ones. What do you think of tapes versus CDs?

DV: Tapes rule, CDs are crap.

CoC: Again, something more general: how do you think the Internet has affected the metal scene?

DV: Instead of waiting for weeks for a bad sounding tape to show up, you can with only a few clicks hear the shit immediately.

CoC: Haha, that's very true. I know the band doesn't like the idea of playing any cover songs, but how would you feel if another band covered an Obscurity track?

DV: Hahaha... It's already done by a band called Repugnant. To the Death Records released "Mortal Remains" by Repugnant on a 7" vinyl. It's a pretty cool version.

CoC: I'm going to have to go listen to that! Do you ever see bands naming Obscurity as an influence?

DV: I've read it several times. The guys in Nifelheim did an interview for Close-Up many years ago. They said that they wanted to sound like Obscurity.

CoC: If you hadn't been dormant as a band for so long, what do you think Obscurity would sound like now?

DV: Pretty much the same.

CoC: Shirts were supposed to be printed, right? Are there any available for those interested?

DV: Absolutely.

CoC: Is there anything else you'd like to leave with the readers that's not covered in the interview?

DV: Look out for the new album. Be yourself. Stay evil.

(article submitted 18/6/2009)


ALBUMS
11/4/2009 C Burton 4 Obscurity - Várar
10/12/1999 P Azevedo 3 Obscurity - Damnations Pride
3/14/1999 A Wee 9 Obscurity - Ovations to the Death
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