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The Forgotten Conquerors of Cyberspace - 92%

bayern, April 6th, 2017

Obliveon are a natural product of the constantly evolving, perennially forward-thinking Canadian metal scene; the scene that spawned Voivod for a start in the mid-80’s. And then it all steam-rolled from there with Savage Steel and DBC abandoning their immediate beginnings to jump on the more serious wagon, alongside Annihilator, Beyond and the band under scrutiny here who managed to bring their visions above ground by the end of the decade. To add a few unheralded showings in the face of Dyoxen and Disciples of Power, and the picture came to being almost complete. Obliveon were the most aggressive performers from this group boldly venturing into proto-death with a nice technical touch as evident from the impressive “Whimsical Uproar” demo.

The band’s debut was an answer to the works of Annihilator (“Alice in Hell”; or was it “….in Heaven”?) and Disciples of Power (Powertrap”) who were the only acts from the mentioned group that remained afloat, ready to fight with whatever the grunge/groovy/aggro hordes would throw at them (well, not exactly, Mr. Waters) in the years to come. Of those three opuses, the one reviewed here is the best, a great flagship of the thinning classic metal movement from Canada in the early-90’s. However, it remained to be seen which direction the guys were going to swing having in mind their deathy predilections. It has to be the title-track to answer this question which starts this saga with a suggestive bassy intro before a myriad of intricate riffs pours over the listener, the latter sitting in bewilderment, savouring the stylish cannonade which never speeds up, but adds a layer after layer of perplexing serpentine rhythms which creep remorselessly with a unique surreal, atonal aura surrounding them, and with a portion of twisted melodies springing out of nowhere in the second half. It smells like thrash on this opening “ceremony”, with only the harsh semi-declamatory vocals firmly belonging to the death metal side. “Fiction of Veracity” has another melodic surprise in stall for a start, but more intense thrashing is provided right after with the characteristic weird melodies again emerging from the netherworld to mesmerize the fandom who will have to experience nearly 9-min of this progressive saga which twists and turns into many directions as the mid-section is particularly stupendous bordering on operatic virtuosity.

“Drondomized” sounds like something from out of space title-wise, or at least prophetic regarding the invasion of the drones that we’re experiencing nowadays; but in the music department we have a relatively linear, moderately speedy shredder with more dramatic accumulations here and there, the middle part again preserved for the most challenging riff-pattern. “Imminent Regenerator” bedazzles from the get-go with a super-technical fast-paced introduction the band thrashing with consummate precision and this elusive melodic flair also characteristic of the Germans Despair (“Decay of Humanity”, in particular); a highly stylized rifforama with a few classical variations and a strong headbanging motif. “It Should Have Stayed Unreal” produces the next in line quiet section as an “appetizer” before the guys start piling up clever time-signatures and mazey rhythmic puzzles all the way to the pacifying balladic finale. The instrumental “Access to the Acropolis” will give you “access” to a nice introductory bassism which in its turn transforms into a lead-driven doomy stroke; the transformational cycle continues with a speedy crescendo with classical overtones again which are also carried by the superb melodic lead sections. “Chronocraze” is the ultimate technicaller taking it easy first with stomping more orthodox riffage, but complicates the environment with more puzzling decisions later with a somewhat symphonic structure, with fast appreggio sweeps “fighting” for domination against the officiant mid-paced stomps.

The warm classical-prone way of execution makes this album an entirely different beast, having not much to do with the over-the-top display of guitar dexterity of Jeff Waters, or the hyper-active intricate histrionics of Disciples of Power. Again, it would have felt much more at home on the other side of The Atlantic in the company of the first two Despair efforts, Sieges Even’s “Life Cycle”, and the Dutch Sacrosanct’s two opuses. It was too advanced for the Canadian metal arena at the time, but served just great as the more sophisticated, less aggressive analogue to the hyper-active, very technical death/thrash mixtures of their US peers Atheist, Nocturnus, Vacant Grave, Hexx and Revenant.

It turned out that Annihilator wouldn’t be much of a competition for Obliveon after Waters messed it up with the tepid “Set the World on Fire”; but the other candidates, Disciples of Power, grew into a formidable rival with their very next opus “Ominous Prophecy”, a potent slab of technical thrash/death (more death than thrash actually) with engaging complex song-structures. Obliveon’s answer to this challenge was more than distinguished, though; “Nemesis” was another meisterwerk of consummate technical/progressive thrash on the verge of death at times. The few modern elements that had found their niche on that album became the guiding “light” on “Cybervoid” two years later, a modern thrasher with echoes of Meshuggah, the industrial metal movement (think Skrew, above all) and same year’s Voivod’s “Negatron”. Not bad at all by 90’s standards, it delineated the band from the classic metal trajectory, but brought them close to the conquest of cyberspace which was eventually achieved with the release of “Carnivore Mothermouth” in 1999, a more heavily industrialized affair with a more pronounced death metal flavour too, the band looking to find shelter under the death metal flag that was raised particularly high in their homeland.

Alas, the new millennium had no tolerance for vestiges of the aggro/groovy/industrial miasma that had been wrapped around the previous decade, and Obliveon were not among the chosen ones to launch the old school resurrection wave. After a best of compilation released in 2002 the band put an end to their career; career that left an indelible trace on the Canadian metal field, and one that has been given a second chance in 2014 with the band coming back together. Cyberspace was conquered the first time around; where to next… anywhere but not on the road to oblivion.

Beautiful Landscapes - 89%

grain_silo, July 7th, 2011

“From this Day Forward” is Obliveon’s first effort and from what I’ve heard, their best. It signifies what technical old school thrash should sound like. It’s got the speed, the technicality, and the aggression that all thrash should have.

The production is amazing. All the instruments are audible. The drums are loud and powerful, the guitars are heavy, the bass is present in the mix but too overly loud, and the vocals go over top perfectly. I can’t really think of one flaw in the production. I’m not sure where they recorded this but whoever did definitely knew what they were doing.

The music on this album is very technical. Now, I don’t mean technical as in weird time signatures and very off rhythm riffs, I mean how challenging the riffs sound to play. There are plenty of bass standouts which further show how good everyone in this band actually is. Yes, this album has a lot of the standard thrash beats, but this drummer adds some more to the music with crazy fills and cymbal work similar to Sean Reinert on Death’s “Human” album. Also, another aspect of this album that makes it more interesting is the almost atmospheric intros and breaks. A good example of this is, “From this Day Forward” and “Across to the Acropolis”.

The only negative thing I have to say about this album is the song lengths. I think they could’ve split some songs in two or shortened them, but it’s not a big enough flaw to do any damage.

If you haven’t heard this album, you’re missing out on a true old school thrash album. Probably one of more technical thrash metal out there and if you are a fan of that sort of thing, definitely check this out.

Best tracks – “Droidomized”, “From this Day Forward”, and “Across to the Acropolis”