Remastered by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in July 2019.
It’s not that now would be the perfect time to re-release what are probably the best Opprobrium albums, but then again: Can the vinyl pressings of two veritable metal classics be wrong at any point? There you have it … and speaking of Beyond the Unknown as well as Discerning Forces, it’s fair to say they rank among the finest death thrash in the history of the genre, notwithstanding the band’s chronic underexposure throughout the years.
Founded in early 1986 as Incubus, it was actually and has ever since remained a duo at its core, consisting of Brazilian-born US denizens Moyses and Francis M. Howard to live out their passion for hard rock and early metal in a sonically more and more extreme setting. As they were honing there craft, lines between their initial death sound and thrashier forms of expression started to blur.
The siblings’ songwriting abilities were already manifest on their 1988 debut Serpent Temptation, with each track carrying its own identity while still leaving room for improvement – particularly in the production department.
Recorded in Florida’s legendary Morrisound Studios, successor Beyond the Unknown turned out to be an instant classic when it came out in 1990 despite the brothers’ nervousness during the process. “Back then, everything got recorded live, and working there was very expensive, so we had to give 100 percent”, multi-instrumentalist and singer Francis remembers. “Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything at all.”
However, the re-issue contains a so-far unreleased bonus track plus the album on CD and another nine demo tracks. “We just felt this to be the ideal moment, especially after the release of our latest record The Fallen Entities from early 2019.”
As for third full-length Discerning Forces, to which High Roller also added a bonus track, too much time passed until its 1999 publication despite the meanwhile renamed group’s deal with industry giant Nuclear Blast and several high-profile live gigs. Opprobrium may have kept a low profile after their early storm and draught, but Francis keeps fond memories. “It was exciting to work with cult producer Harris Johns in Rio de Janeiro. From composition to final production, we couldn’t have been more satisfied with the album.”
In hindsight, the main songwriter feels that both records show the outfit at a different point in time while being part of the same musical DNA, which also included everything else they released up until now. “The power is there on all these albums, though The Fallen Entities is more mature, if not the most complex album we did, not to mention the powerful sound adding strength to the tunes.“
And the future looks rather brightly for the Howards, because “Moyses and me have just started to write fresh stuff for our next LP. If everything works as we want, we will put it out rather sooner than later, but be assured that we do take our time to carefully hone the songs. We want the best for our fans always.“
As it turns out Opprobrium are in for the long haul, veterans though they might be. “We feel as if we’d just begun. Right now, we are looking into possibilities of playing at festivals in 2020. There are lots of people who want to see us live, performing the greatest hits from every album …”