|Musical Style: Power Metal||Produced By: Andy Freeman|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website: Oblivion Myth|
|Tracks: 8||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 48:07|
In the crowded American power metal scene, Nashville, Tennessee’s Oblivion Myth stands out with its darker, more instrumentally expansive and progressive based take on the genre. The group can trace its history to early 2006 when it was founded by guitarist Keith Smith. Later solidifying its line-up with guitarist Chris Selby, vocalist Andy Freeman and drummer Patrick Nickell, Oblivion Myth entered the studio to begin work on its independently released 2008 full length debut Between Light And Shadow.
What we have in Oblivion Myth is classic US power metal heavily influenced by the NWOBHM. Specifically, the group is not that far removed from Jacobs Dream, Antithesis, Warrior, Bride (eighties era), Fires Of Babylon, Septer and Faith Factor. Yes, a wide array of styles at hand - and I hesitate to invite direct comparison as a result - but if you like many of the previously referenced bands then I can see Oblivion Myth appealing to your tastes.
Helping give Oblivion Myth its distinct sound is the gravelly and raspy presence of Andy Freeman. With a powerful delivery that trends towards the lower register, he contrasts with many of the vocalists of the groups already mentioned. In other words, you will not hear any high pitched wailing along the lines of Ski (Faith Factor), David Taylor (Jacobs Dream) or Dale Thompson (Bride)! If anything, the guy lends to the darker aspect of the Oblivion Myth sound with his rumbling style- and helps set the group apart in that “crowded American power metal scene” in the process.
Further enhancing those darker elements is how Oblivion Myth makes occasional use of acoustic guitars and quieter guitar passages, particularly during its more progressive based material. Nine minute magnum opus “Knightscrrant”, for instance, runs the gamut from the ethereal to the sweeping to the galloping, while “Gathering Of Souls” hits hard but includes its share of disquiet moments as well. “Evil Of All Corners” also brings its variances, ranging from some thrash-like moments to others bordering on doom metal.
Oblivion Myth, otherwise, heads in straightforward power metal territory with a couple high energy tracks in “Dimensions” and “Believer Deceiver” (Nickell showcases his aggressive timekeeping skills on the two) and a pair of mid-paced pieces taking the more stalwart heading, “Mirroracle” and “Mystique”. The group even delivers a melodic based number entitled “Twilight Dementia”.
At this point it must be noted that the Oblivion Myth material is written from a riff driven standpoint as opposed to one that is melody based (the group reminds me somewhat of Fires Of Babylon in this regard). Not that there is no melody here - the exact opposite holds true - but rather it takes several listens for the songs to fully grow on you. Either way, I found the investment in Between Light And Shadow to be well worth the time and effort.
That riff driven emphasis, of course, can be attributed to guitarists Keith Smith and Chris Selby, who bestow the album with their tight and melodic harmonies but at a moments notice can also delve into some bone crushing heaviness (that almost approached the thrash-like in places). But what I most appreciate about the two is how they turn the Oblivion Myth instrumental sound into a strong point. Many of the songs here open their first minute (or two) instrumentally - average song length is just over six minutes - while also featuring significant instrumental portions in between, both of which allow Smith and Selby to showcase their skilful soloing abilities.
Oblivion Myth brings a faith based element to the majority of its lyrics (the best way to describe the group might be “Christians in a band”) while its name implies its beliefs as well: Heaven and Hell are real- Oblivion is just a Myth!
Track By Track
“Gathering Of Souls” starts to a solemn instrumental opening that transitions at once to a more spirited and upbeat direction. With forceful guitars and driving rhythm section leading the way, the song storms its remaining distance in giving rise to a shadowy chorus and some moments bordering on the swarthy and ominous. Topping things off is the lengthy instrumental interlude near the end. Lyric snippet:
Falling somewhere between Heaven & Hell
Souls are the choice
By the thief in the night
Hear the scream of the tormented
Mesmerized by these ageless eyes
All the saints will ascend
Which way my friend
All the sinners cry out
In the hour of doubt
“Dimensions” backs off from the progressiveness and takes the heavier heading in the process. The upshot is a straight on power metal sound with highlighting keyboards merging with forthright guitars and ripping guitar leads in abundance. I am somewhat reminded of Theater Of War era Jacobs Dream as a result. Lyric snippet:
Light and darkness
Held dominion over all
The myth is alive
Twilight of dimensions are my windows to the world
Sanctums of our time
There’s no escape
For the skies have opened up
Fate’s revealed to me
I am the chosen one
“Believer Deceiver” maintains the spirited power metal direction. This one plays up plenty of rollicking double bass to go alongside the energetic tempo, proving brazen and determined but driven by an underpinning heaviness at the same time. Instrumentally, momentum stops dead in its tracks to piano and keyboards prior to impetus being regained to some bluesy soloing. Lyric snippet:
Since I was a child
I had dreams of paradise
Now the evil one tries to steal it from my eyes
Now that I am a man
I must face the hungry beast
I will fight and die for you
In this war for peace
Do you believe in your heart?
And do you wish to live in the dark?
A return to progressive territory is found on the nine and a half minute “Knightscrrant”. The song opens its first couple minutes instrumentally as acoustic guitars and ethereal vocal melodies give way to crunchy guitars. “Knightscrrant” almost gives rise to a Symphony X-like feel the rest of the way, joining galloping riffs and pristine keyboards with an intricate chorus that has sublime written all over it. Instrumental territory is explored again to an adeptly done lead guitar run. Lyric snippet:
So is the end of what was meant to be
As the sun sets low
Dethrone your kings
Defender through the ages
Eternal sea rages
We’ll conquer all
To honor the golden hall
Rule by blood
And by right
“Evil Of All Corners” jumps out of the gate expeditiously to thrash flavored guitars and heavy hitting drums. Initiative settles down as the song maneuvers its staunch verses only to decelerate even further for the near doom-ish aura that is its dark and nebulous chorus. The best way to describe this one would be biting but engaging at the same time. Lyric snippet:
Hoping to find a place with no evil
I have searched all throughout this world
People losing faith and falling out
Can you help me save all that’s good?
Let me show you what life’s all about
All of mankind is now entrapped with fear
Losing your mind
Losing your soul
The instrumental opening to “Twilight Dementia” also sustains a driving mentality. Things takes a more melodic heading as the song moves ahead, with fixed guitar harmonies and near commercially tinged chorus complementing another focused lead guitar stretch. I can see Barren Cross doing something like this. Lyric snippet:
Once I did live in a world like you
Now I’m forever lost
Hands of fate
Take me away into twilight
A rift between time and space
I can no longer see my home
Forever in twilight dementia
To seek this great oblivion
I must face this fate again
“Mirroracle” slows the tempo hard and heavy. Guitars hit with full force and drums batter away as the song impels itself in tenacious fashion, giving rise to a somber feel that reminds somewhat of early Bride. Balancing things is another engaging chorus. Freeman’s vocal delivery, at the same time, aligns with the low-key setting. Lyric snippet:
Encounter the unknown
Without fear we have grown
Life has so much to see
Feel the pain and glory
Time is on my side
I’m trying to survive
What have I left behind?
Keeping thought within my mind
Winds speed up
And destroy from above
Closer “Mystique” represents another no-nonsense piece. Also mid-paced, the song drives its first minute and a half instrumentally (quite tenacious to grinding guitars in abundance) only to back away from the angst for its shadowy verses. A galloping chorus backed by double bass has Antithesis written all over it. Lyric snippet:
And still I see and reach Empyrean. Heaven
After I have captured my mystique
All will bear witness to the creation
Vengeance, malice of the ring
To you I sing
Distant atmosphere in my sight
O’ bearer of the light
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Gathering Of Souls” (6:33), “Dimensions” (5:00), “Believer Deceiver” (5:51), “Knightscrrant” (9:41), “Evil Of All Corners” (4:59), “Twilight Dementia” (5:37), “Mirroracle” (5:01), “Mystique” (5:22)
Andy Freeman - Lead Vocals & Keyboards
Keith Smith - Guitars
Chris Selby - Guitars
Patrick White - Bass
Patrick Nickell - Drums