Whimsical Uproar (Red Stream, 2005)
Coming from the confusion of the early days of death metal, this short demo combines the chorus-heavy speed/death hybrid of Destruction or Exodus with the longer phrases and technical intricacy of early Pestilence, creating music that while powerful at moments becomes overbearing with repetition. Many good fast tremolo riffs in the Slayer style, accompanied by abrupt tempo changes and a driving energy, unite those styles into a formula straight out of the end of the 1980s that does not give itself enough breathing room to develop. As a result, it seems to shuttle between repetitive motions and momentary flights of fancy into exploratory riffing, a tendency resolved on the first album with a smoother integration into a style like middle-era Pestilence fused with Voivod: an odd sense of inverted harmony combined with a smoothly forward flowing death metal rhythm and structure, which effectively resolved the confusions of this early release.
Production: Like an echoing covert garage, it is disembodied but eerily clear.
Review: When Obliveon took on technical metal, they aspired to find a unique voice in a genre that was so rapidly developing it had no boundaries except for a need to convert its songwriting into a form compatible with the unique phrasal style of death metal riffs and the corresponding narrative composition; most efforts sounded like death metal with lumps of other heavy metal styles thrown in, and while parts of From This Day Forward show this clear influence, most of it survives intact through use of lead melodic rhythm riffing over nearly ambient percussion patterns.
1. From This Day Forward (4:57)
2. Fiction of Veracity (8:36)
3. Droïdomized (6:43)
4. Imminent Regenerator (5:02)
5. It Should Have Stayed Unreal (4:04)
6. Access to the Acropolis (4:14)
7. Chronocraze (5:46)
Songs introduce themselves with a motif not unlike the head of a Joe Satriani tune: a gentle, self-reflexive melody coordinated with a rigid interpretation of an offbeat-powered rhythmic pattern; they then develop this melody into a series of fuller forms that guide verses and transitions, while choruses interrupt with drum-leading buildups and takedowns. Much like countrymen Voivod, Obliveon harmonize their melodies with power chords of varied shapes, which in conjunction with melodic development gives the music a feel of different planes of evolution intersecting, which underscores its technological theme.
Cadenced vocals accompany these rigid but protean sequences but know when to selectively disappear. As motives build and deconstruct, propelling the song forward, they reveal the melodic and passionate song hidden as if in silhouetted distributed amongst them, and as this kaleidoscopic view distills into a clear vision, they then sacrifice their work with a concluding riff -- this is the source of all metaphysical "heaviness" in metal -- that reduces the conflict to a simplified yet broader context, giving us a sense of being transported, possibly to the new technological world they describe. This synthesis using notes with few chords is reminiscent of both early At the Gates and the shredder guitar wizards of the 1980s.
While this offering does not fall into the roar and blast that characterized death metal of its day, it captures the contemplative and reverent spirit of metal that chooses to express itself in a theodicy of chaos, taking tendrils of tangent and forming them into a bundle from which clarity emerges through a harmony of like parts. Through this artistic device, they are able to merge the speed metal, death metal and neo-black metal impulses of their art and make from it a quieter but clearer metal voice.
Production: Solid sounds in clear atmosphere with mechanical guitar distortion.
Review: After death metal emerged, bands countered rising criticism of musical illiteracy with a number of styles of technical metal, which was half-progressive rock and half-shredder, mixed into the most acerbic forms of death metal. In the early clines of this movement, the sound pioneered by Voivod filtered its way into a number of acts, including fellow French Canadians Obliveon, who unveiled a multi-generational technical metal hybrid with their second album, Nemesis.
1. Nemesis (5:40)
2. The Thinker's Lair (4:32)
3. Obscure Mindways (4:55)
4. Dynamo (5:19)
5. Frosted Avowals (5:30)
6. Factory of Delusions (5:50)
7. Estranging Abduction (4:43)
8. Strays of the Soul (6:01)
Unlike their first, which had a style divorced from outside genres, Nemesis merges speed metal and death metal in a technical style that walks a fine line between wanting to use jazz harmony, and indulging in the uniquely "metal" style of composition that is phrasal, structuralist and melodic with harmonic topography as only a secondary consideration. With the maturation of their style, Obliveon settled for using death metal song structures to enclose heavy metal riffs wrapped around a harmony that emerges to conclude each song, letting melody walk into both phrasal and tonal structure to conclude each song.
The downside of this hybrid is sometimes jarring disconnects in continuity, and every third riff ends up bouncy and neo-nu-metal in its attempts to mimick the funk-influenced expectation-based offbeat framed rhythms of later progressive rock. From shredders like Joe Satriani, lead melodic rhythm playing with a rigid not loose rhythmic pattern enters this music; from death metal comes the structure of songs, and the tremolo riffs used to conclude clusters of related riff ideas; from jazz and rock, open chords and harmony as a means of guiding structural development; from speed metal, most prominently Metallica and Voivod, come the muted strum riffs in tight pocket integration with drums that make up the bulk of the riffs on this album: these are the ingredients of a hybrid united by the shadow of death metal structure.
Resembling in some ways early technical efforts like Cadaver and Pestilence, Obliveon try to bring the technique of three generations of rock, jazz fusion, and classical-influenced progressive rock into metal, and succeed in that individual parts of songs demonstrate a power barely tapped by others exploring this field. However, by bringing in so much, they lose the unity of vision felt on the first album, and this influences their decision to tie this CD together with rhythmic speed metal riffs that are even simpler than the death metal variants. Had they expanded on their ideas in a death metal context, we would be thinking of them as first-line death metal today.
1. Cybervoid (3:41)
2. Downward (3:39)
3. Perihelion (5:03)
4. Android Succubus (3:21)
5. Sequels (3:48)
6. Subgod (4:34)
7. Sombre Phase (3:56)
8. Biomécanique (4:07)
9. Call of Silence (3:37)
10. Deus ex machina (4:13)
11. Psychomatrix (4:02)
12. Drift of the Spheres (2:13)
Cybervoid (Hypnotic, 1996)
Coming from a death metal background, and yet trying to pay the bills, bands re-invent themselves by mixing the bouncier styles closer to rock into their music. Later Obliveon combines catchy syncopation heavy melodic death metal like Hypocrisy's The Fourth Dimension with precision technical rhythm riffing in the style of Meshuggah, throwing in a bith of the gothic Type O Negative vibe. The result uses more expectation-based catchy rhythms, and in the style of Meshuggah, reduces melodic and harmonic motion in deference to pure rhythm, but then explodes into choruses that fall quickly through gracefully musical progressions, giving it a sense of angry, bouncy ranting unleashing itself into free speech. In doing so, it becomes a close cousin to nu-metal, and condemns itself to verse-chorus songwriting that does not unleash the potential of these musicians. While this CD is well-executed musically, its lack of vision guarantees that it becomes another variation on a pattern instead of a pattern of itself.
1. Technocarnivore Mothermouth (3:31)
2. Love, Die, Resurrect (3:56)
3. Such a Quiet River (4:04)
4. Devil in My Eyes (3:43)
5. Coercive Currents (3:37)
6. Polarity (3:47)
7. Vectors (4:08)
8. Glass Made of Flesh (4:20)
9. Fatal Induction (4:12)
10. Désert Incorporel (4:08)
Carnivore Mothermouth (Hypnotic, 1999)
Expanding their palette with more techniques from later death and black metal like Behemoth, Obliveon make a style of metalcore that combines the cyclic, bouncy punk song structures with metal and rock riffs, mixing in elements of lead picking and harmonic interplay that might be familiar to fans of Cynic. To metal fans, these songs will seem static because they do not make use of the phrasal style of death metal riffs, eschewing them for bouncy and harmonically static styles, and they design themselves after an idealized song pattern, where most metal songs contort themselves to the poetic direction suggested by their dominant riff-motifs. In addition, the gangrush style vocals seem directionless after hearing the directed, narrative screaming of death metal and black metal. It's definitely a new style, but what does it communicate, we must ask -- and conclude that whatever it is trying to communicate is the opposite direction from where death metal wanted to go.