Oblivion – Oblivion (Self-Released)Tuesday, 5th February 2019
Now six years removed from their 2013 debut, Called to Rise, California tech-death crew Oblivion bring forth a self-titled release for the third time around. Where 2017’s The Path Towards… saw the band makes some progression past some simply ‘standard’ tech staples and clichés and towards something more fulfilling in songwriting, there doesn’t seem to be much of a step forward with this latest release.
Not that each album needs to be a huge jump in a band’s evolution (see the plethora of Swe-death worshipping releases each month), but given the momentum from Path, it seems more like a second round of tech this time, for better or worse. The same stronger songwriting is still a part of the system, and while Oblivion clearly checks all of the appropriate genre boxes, they thankfully never go fully over-the-top with tech. Songs like “Forgotten Brotherhood” mix it up with a stronger emphasis on brutal grooves that are bound to stick with the listener in the moment and later on, and a more melodic emphasis on the instrumental “Aliens Among Us” is also worth noting. Shorter, 3-ish minute bursts seem to be the band’s go-to, which also helps to make sure each track doesn’t get too bloated. But that said, the intensity can sometimes swallow up a song and leave it with less memorable moments as they move into well-worn death metal territory.
Oblivion still manage to sit just at the cusp of greatness on their third attempt. The mixture of groove and melody amid the technical precision is appreciated but more often than not it never seems to fully grab you the way that it should. It’s a fun listen, particularly for fans of the subgenre, but never seems to discern itself too much from the rest of the heap.