Oblivion – that place your former love strives to condemn you having finally thrown the light to her back and, by some awful osmosis, assumed her final form – a level 99, stat-maxed Succubitch whose consuming impulse can only be satiated with all your fucking money and a pound of flesh no Phoenix Down will ever resurrect. But I digress. In this instance, I am of course referring to Oblivion, the American technical death metal band and Unique Leader alum, as they prepare to roll out second full length, The Path Towards… Having generated quite the buzz with their debut album thanks, in no small part, to the reputation of frontman, Dr. Nick Vasallo, whose legacy as musical professor, composer extraordinaire and deathcore wizard continues to precede him, expectations were set justifiably high. While the band have been critically lauded, the so called “sophomore slump” shares a mood pallet with my ex and can often prove quite the savage – so where exactly does this Path Towards… lead? Infinity or beyond?

Honestly, the answer is a conflicting one. Oblivion undoubtedly know their way around a riff – plenty of the songs here sport a burly muscularity with just enough tech heft to keep it interesting. “Dominion” marries tiny microcosms of melody to thickly hewn chugging before indulging in spots of off-kilter soloing; as an introduction, it’s certainly effective. In fact, much of the record’s first half revels in a certain bloody-knuckled kineticism. “Mechanistic Hollow” and “Awaiting Autochthon” – penned by Karl Sanders and featuring a vocal spot by Enrico H. Di Lorenzo of Hideous Divinity – both deal in superhuman rhythms while the latter indulges in progressive nuances to bolster the dense riffing. Vasallo and Ted O’Neill’s guitars continuously ply the album with uncompromising brawn and, individually, the songs are a welcome beating.

The problem, however, is when taken as a whole, the album just seems to lack the necessary impact. When “Concrete Thrones,” the record’s strongest and most immediate cut, lashes out with its heady collection of alternating tremolo sequences, it’s not only memorable, but suitably flaying – but the album seems to host an inexplicable parasite that neutralises the material’s efficacy as a gestalt whole. “Harsh Awakening” engages with a crushing polyrhthmic groove but somehow meanders into monotony by indulging in derivative core mechanics for the remainder of the song – unsurprising given the entire rhythm section’s history with Antagony, but it seems to feature in direct ignorance of good songwriting, which surprised me, considering Vasallo’s academic quality. While the unquestionable presence of Atheist looms large over the schizoid progressions of “Awaiting Autochthon” and “It Has Become,” the latter feels disjointed, particularly in the context of the entire album. To make matters worse, The Path Towards… is heavily front-loaded, blurring its increasingly derivative latter into redundancy upon repeat listens.

Although comprised of prodigiously able musicians, it would appear that, to some degree, Oblivion have buckled under the weight of their own lofty expectations. While drummer, Luis Martinez, often employs a scattershot of double bass spreads and off-the-cuff blasts, the songs’ insistent reliance on mid-paced tempos does nothing to delineate the album’s character. “Zenith” does offer the record some relevant diversity in its blackened signature, tracing that genre’s rhythmic swarm over Oblivion‘s death metal authority. It’s a good song, trading vocals between Vasallo’s coarse bark and guest appearances by Antagony‘s Carlos Saldana and the controversial Eddie Hermida of All Shall Perish and Suicide Silence, but, again, the band’s attempt at variety finds itself glaringly conspicuous. “Under A Dying Sun” closes the record and ups the awkward ante by existing as a protracted doom entity, clashing with the mood of the album even further and quelling not just the record, but the last embers of interest I am able to muster.

Oblivion‘s riff heavy brand of tech influenced death metal is certainly formidable at times, but The Path Towards‘ bizarre habit to insistently repeat the same motifs and then brashly modify the formula right at the end is frustrating to say the least. A handful of the tracks here are prime candidates for excision and inclusion in a quality playlist, but when the material struggles to exist within the context it was intended, it’s hard to deem the record a success. Considering the band’s reputation and ability, my summary will no doubt be divisive, but, in a year so full of titanic death metal – tech, brutal, progressive or otherwise – The Path Towards… wanders much further down the list than it should.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: obtainoblivion.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/oblivion
Releases Worldwide: November 17th, 2017

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    THOSE DUDES PIMPED MY RIDE

  • Ivan E. Rection

    Full title: The Path Towards…Sounding Like Countless Other Tech Death Bands. I don’t think I have ever been more bored by the current state of a metal music genre.

    • Zach Ward

      Bruh, archspire new record gud

      • GardensTale

        The only tech death I’ve ever really loved.

        • Francesco Bordoni

          (Emotional violins in the background)

          • GardensTale

            (Emotional 200bpm blastbeats in the background)

          • Kronos

            *300

        • PanzerFistDominatrix

          Say wut? Necrophagist’s Epitaph didn’t do anything for you? Diskreet’s Engage the Mechanicality?

          • GardensTale

            If I remember I’ll give them a shot, but I’m by and large an emotional listener and technical death metal has always felt too detached and clinical for my enjoyment.

    • welyyt

      Then check out the new Replacire, Archspire, Artificial Brain, Gigan, Dying Fetus, Beneath, Decrepit Birth, Bufihimat, Inanimate Existence, Exist and Cytotoxin. I’d also count Krallice’s Loum as tech, but that’s maybe closer to avantgarde. Also, the new Suffocation is a lot of fun, and Sentient Ignition and Ulcest walk the line between tech and prog, but they are both great.

      • Underneath a Melting Sky is such a phenomenal album.

      • Ivan E. Rection

        Big fan of Dying Fetus, but I’ve been with them from the beginning so they get a pass. Many tech death bands sound a bit interchangeable to my ears… seems to be a lack of innovation in this genre, but granted a few do break the mold (Archspire good example). But for each of those there are 30 coat-tail riders. Suffocation gets a nod just for being an innovator, but I count them more “brutal” less “tech”, at least regarding their back catalog. I split hairs maybe, sorry. Will give Krallice a try, have not given them a chance yet but will per your recommendation- thanks.

        • welyyt

          Replacire and Bufihimat do really interesting stuff within the tech framework, and the new wave of dissonant stuff has brought us some great albums (Artificial Brain’s debut, Pyrrhon’s last two, the new Gigan). Sure, there is a bunch of stock Unique Leader-ish garbage out there, but then you have the new Impureza, which is fantastic, the new Kardashev (amazing), the new Fleshkiller (great stuff FFO Exol), etc. You just have to dig a bit to find the good stuff, but it’s totally worth it; check out a song or two from the albums I mentioned, and you’ll see there’s still plenty of fresh and innovative stuff in the genre.

          • Ivan E. Rection

            I tried the new Pyrrhon and could not stomach it. To each there own and stuff like that… Was luke warm on Artificial Brain but they do have a good sound. I am about to give Krallice a try. Thanks

          • Fleshkiller is ace! More Extol would have been preferred, but this will more than do in the interim. m/

      • Morbidly Obese Angel

        Those Bufihimat and Beneath albums kick all kinds of ass! I’ve been spinning them a lot lately, especially Beneath! That one’s been flying pretty under the radar which is a shame

        • welyyt

          Beneath may be the heaviest album of the year.

        • 12tonehead

          Beneath is clearly above the herd.

      • 12tonehead

        Ulsect. Yes. Great.
        I’m reapeating myself, sorry.

    • I heard about 10 seconds or so of one of this band’s new songs and I thought to myself something similar to your alternate album title there. Maybe Unique Leader and others are spreading themselves too thin on the California tech-death/Zach Ohren scene and its countless clones? I think we vomit forth this sentiment all over again with the band Alterbeast with their upcoming release.

      Side note, Archspire and Cytotoxin are my favorites for “wanky” technical death metal this year, and that’s because both albums have a strong sense of song and even with all the blasting lots of headbangable groove.

  • SoLeftISeeRight

    This was not the Oblivion from Quebec that I was hoping for.

  • Kronos

    I liked this album more than I expected to, but I definitely agree that this band doesn’t write anything very challenging. Still, I think it’s a competent death metal album and a decent length despite some weak songs.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      It’s alright – some of the tracks are definitely cool, but the “best death metal album of the year” tag that I keep seeing attached to it are stupid.

      • welyyt

        It’s not even the best Unique Leader album of the year.

      • Kronos

        That tag obviously should go to Phrenelith.

        • Nathan McCain

          Almost forgot to listen to it this week. How do you think it stacks up against Charnel Passages?

          • Kronos

            Eye to eye. More brutal though.

  • aelena74

    For a moment there I wished we were talking about Obliveon…

  • Mike Boldin

    I don’t agree with some of this (surprise!) I think this is the sort of record one needs to listen to a few times to comprehend its brilliance. I have had it in my car for almost 2 weeks and there are so many amazing moments. The variety is impressive. It may not be the most straight forward album but I think that is what sets it apart from the herd.

    • McG

      I think a record like this that mixes genres so fluently is going to get some resistance. I think Oblivion and Enslaved released albums of the year imo

      • Mike B

        Yeah regardless of the review here, Oblivion has a lot of amazing reviews from other sites. I think some people get it and some don’t. It is still the best death metal album I’ve heard in a long time IMO

  • I wonder how Unique Leader handles with promotion of this relatively new band, while there are 31 others with the same name (according to Encyclopaedia Metallum).

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Makes you wonder if Obliveon, formed in 1987, somehow knew about this and decided to change the spelling of their name in order to avoid confusion with the other 30-something Oblivions. I knew time travel was real! And don’t call me crazy, I’ve read about conspiracy theories based on shakier evidence!

      • Francesco Bordoni

        Their bandcamp page url is quite genius actually

  • Jim Bob

    This record has violated the law

  • Iain Gleasure

    Ferrous I thought you were a man of iron. Who hurt you?

  • Damn it Ferrous! You totally bummed me out when you said, “Final Form” and it wasn’t a Dragon Ball Z reference to Frieza or something along those lines. Then you made it all Final Fantasy with the Phoenix Down and I wanted to forgive you but I could not. AAAAGH!!!!

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Challenge accepted.

  • Francesco Bordoni

    I am sorely disappointed. Review of a band called Oblivion and we get 0, Ze-fucking-ro Elder Scrolls references. I’ll make sure you sir either pay the AMG court a fine or serve your sentence!

    • Ferrous Beuller

      I’ll be honest, I am a little ashamed of that.

      • Francesco Bordoni

        Nah it’s ok really: as a term, “oblivion” has been used and abused in the metalverse, to the point it no longer automatically goes there. Now a band called Morrowind comes along, and no one mentions TES in the review, I might definitely freak out ahahah

  • Lithophyte

    This is so crunchy, I can taste it…
    Works for me
    The lyrics are hilarious

  • 12tonehead

    There is a sense of disappointment, initially. Then it grows on you. And you start noticing all sort of fantastic stuff. It still fails to produce the big wow we were expecting from these guys… Archspire did it though.