Semblant - Obscura

Semblant Obscura cover
Frontiers Music srl
Semblant are a Brazilian band that has existed since 2006, debuting a few years later with some three albums and an EP to their name. They signed with Frontiers for their current album, which seems like a somewhat bizarre choice for the largely melodic rock label, as the style the band goes for is a Gothic mallcore, not a million miles away from latter day Lacuna Coil.
While the Brazilian act has a strong social media presence they seem to overexpose their indeed exotic, blue haired female singer Mizuho Lin (Taiwanese/Brazilian) in order to do so. She along with Sergio Mazul (growls) handles vocal duties in often responsive forms that rarely duet.
Neither of them is really that charismatic as to single-handedly elevate the band, above mediocrity and while the performances of the instrumentalist members of the band aren’t bad, with some pretty cool guitar solos here and there and good rhythm, the arrangements don’t sound that original and production feels compressed and relatively concentrated, not filling the broader stereo spectrum.
It’s not the worst thing you’ve ever heard, but it’s far from being something akin to “the discovery of America”, as some might want to present this big league “debut”.
Opener “Murder Of Crows” isn’t a bad track, but midst the general chaos, Lin’s voice sounds way high in the mix, with booming drums also quite loud.
“Left Behind” doesn’t change that formula, with maybe some piano added in the mix and Lin not sticking that much out in the mix, although some almost clippingly loud passages, that are probably used as an effect along some screaming push the envelope from symphonic and melodic to melo-death.
“Dethrone the Gods, Control the Masters (Legacy of Blood Pt. IV)” continues a series of songs that’s been ongoing and actually is more guitar oriented. The gargley male vocals sound almost comical, while ML sounds more incorporated here.
While “Mere Shadow” has some okay guitars and the female vocals kind of work , while the harsh ones don’t. However there are some clean male ones that actually duet nicely with Lin’s more of which would make a welcome change. The short solo is fine, but the vocalizations after it, before the song resumes, are probably there because of vanity.
“Porcelain” is your typical ballad, with a loud crescendo, where shouty male vocals (thankfully clean again) can be heard. This is your average,vintage Lacuna Coil like number and one of the better once.
“The Hunter, The Hunger (Legacy of Blood Pt. V)” has a nice riff and melodies, but fire the extreme vocalist already. He seems to really spoil everything that the rest of the band is building towards. His abysmal performances are a cause of dissonance, that’s not countering something either and one to avoid the band completely.
Even on the intro of “Wasteland”, where he leads, the vocals are subpar and this is a song that could continue the Lacuna like reverie, bar some screams. It actually has one of the stronger riffs of the album but is greatly diminished because of those vocals. Also the clean ones here are mixed in a way and level that doesn’t aid the overall result to overcome the inherent shortcomings.
“Barely Breathing” is a slower, melodic, vintage-Lacuna Coil like tune that for once doesn’t utilize harsh vocals and it works almost like a charm. More of that please.
“Wallachia” goes back to the beauty and the gargling beast template, and despite starting out and maintaining quite a fast tempo for most of its duration, doesn’t stand out more, due to the lack of a convincing vocal counterpoint. Too sad, since the rapid firing solo is smartly incorporated into the proceedings and it seems slightly wasted, under the circumstances.
“Daydream Tragedy” is a gothic ballad and thankfully again only clean vocals are used. I am perplexed if it’s Mazul that’s doing both harsh and clean vocals, because there a transitional moment there... in any case, they death gargle doesn’t work and thankfully this song is free from any of it.
Lastly, “Insomnia” is a guitar heavy and thumbing mid-tempo that slithers and simmers continually, with even some baritone cleans that are not bad and if that’s also Mazul, he must be taking the piss at other times. While the song is interesting it feels a little weird tempo wise tacked at the end and I could see it better utilized somewhere in the middle. Kinda sad, since it’s one of the songs where the chorus actually stood out too.
A “very” mixed bag of an album by a band that’s been around for quite some time, without enough to show for it. Far from terrible, it’s also far from being great, but enhancing the production and losing the growls completely or getting someone that can actually do them convincingly would be of paramount importance. Till then…