United States, Technical Death Metal, Unique Leader Records
Descriptions for Oblivion’s debut full-length Called to Rise typically include adjectives not generally associated with the sub-genre of technical death metal, such as “post” and “blackened,” but the most unique element of Oblivion’s galactic spaceship gets left out of said references: classical. Yes, by that we mean like from Beethoven and all those old dudes.
Titles like “Between the Suns of Light” and “Multiverse” call to mind similar cosmonauts The Zenith Passage, a band in which drummer Luis Martinez also plays, or Xenocide, in the use of slight melodic parts. The album title, as well as the spoken word intro, may be the result of bassist Ben Orum, a founding member and primary writer of All Shall Perish. For a well-versed metalhead though, the piece of the five-man lineup that raises eyebrows will be the occupations/alternate pursuits of Dr. Nick Vasallo, a professor of music and modernist composer, and guitarist Victor Dods, who is currently pursuing a PhD in math. That’s some educated death metal right there!
Oblivion knows their metal as well as their academics (guitarist Ted O’Neil boasts 25 years of experience), handling pace changes and complex structures with expertise. Despite this, the most memorable songs are those that embrace the atypical influences of the band. “Multiverse” opens with classical guitar and then transitions into blackened riffing excellence that captures the desperation of man in complete isolation. Jaw-dropping moments, such as the tremolo-picked neoclassicism on “Canon 1 in E Minor,” shine among the more conventional, albeit extremely well executed, tech death. Simply put, listeners may want more of the aforementioned unique parts.
Perhaps Unique Leader saw exactly this point; the re-release of Called to Rise (after an original self-release) includes four bonus tracks that focus on the classical side of Oblivion’s diverse musical pedigree. Hopefully this creates more exposure for the spacer voyagers, because despite sharing their name with 29 others (on Metal Archives alone), they show could become a genre leading band, a genre-defining one even, if they embrace more of the blackened and classical elements that make them so unique. Until then, Called to Rise will fit nicely on a best of 2013 playlist, and add variety to the library of anyone who enjoys galactic death metal.
Reviewer: Witness to the Void