Interview: Obscura drummer Hannes Grossmann talks about “Contamination Tour”

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The members of German tech-metal band Obscura just finished the opening leg of their first major U.S. tour, by opening for death metal legends Cannibal Corpse.

Now, the progressive death metal band is moving into the headliner’s position, as the top act on the Relapse Contamination Tour.

“This is our first big tour at all,” Grossmann said earlier this week, while the band was on the road to the first Contamination show in Alabama. “The band has done several tours in Europe, but not with this line-up.”

Although this is the band’s first major U.S. tour, the members of Obscura – Grossmann, guitarist/vocalist Steffen Kummerer, bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling and guitarist Christian Muenzner – are not neophytes in the European metal scene. On the contrary: Thesseling played bass in the highly regarded Pestilence and Muenzer and Grossmann performed together in the legendary Necrophagist before joining Obscura.

Now, the band is on tour, supporting “Cosmogenesis” the first release their first major label release. Already, the album has been praised for its ability to combine death metal with precision playing and melody.

In a review on Blabbermouth.net – the “CNN of metal” – music critic Scott Alisoglu said “Cosmogenesis” would “easily be one of the best technical death metal albums of 2009. Scratch that; it’ll be one of the best death metal albums of 2009.”

On Friday, Obscura will perform at the Brothers in Owensboro, along with opening bands Abysmal Dawn and Graves Of Valor.

Grossmann, who has studied s variety of drumming styles, including jazz and fusion, said he did not originally intend to concentrate on metal, but said he was drawn in by the genre’s lack of musical boundaries.

“I didn’t start with metal drumming. I learned everything that was interesting,” Grossmann said. “I got into metal because I liked the music, not the drumming: I liked the guitars more than the drumming.

“With death metal drumming, I want to cross it with those fusion-style tempos,” Grossmann said. “… (Metal) is very intense music. It’s probably the most intense style you can play. What we do is very challenging, and that’s what I like – playing stuff that challenges you, where you have to keep up with your skills and abilities.”

Death metal is one of the most diverse genres of heavy metal. Because death metal is still young in terms of musical development, there are still new frontiers to cross and variations to explore, Grossmann said.

“It’s a little extreme, this kind of music,” Grossmann said. “I like the idea of playing at the edge of extreme stuff. It’s interesting to make something new in extreme music … in classical music, it’s difficult to make something new because it’s such old music.”

The band’s stint opening for Cannibal Corpse was a good introduction to U.S. audiences, Grossmann said. Now, with the Relapse tour, the pressure is on to justify Obscura’s headlining status, he said.

“It’s different, because everyone is waiting for you,” Grossmann said. “Hopefully, it will be a killer live show. We’ll probably play (“Cosmogenesis”) from beginning to end.

“It’s not just standing around on stage,” Grossmann said. “… We want to entertain people, for people to think every cent they paid was worth it. We try to be innovative every evening and make something special if we can.”

For more information about Obscura, including full songs, visit the band’s MySpace page.

Also, here’s the video for “Anticosmic Overload,” from “Cosmogenesis.”

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