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Obliveon - Nemesis
Review: After death metal emerged, bands countered rising criticism of musical illiteracy with a number of styles of technical metal, which was half-progressive rock and half-shredder, mixed into the most acerbic forms of death metal. In the early clines of this movement, the sound pioneered by Voivod filtered its way into a number of acts, including fellow French Canadians Obliveon, who unveiled a multi-generational technical metal hybrid with their second album, Nemesis.
Unlike their first, which had a style divorced from outside genres, Nemesis merges speed metal and death metal in a technical style that walks a fine line between wanting to use jazz harmony, and indulging in the uniquely "metal" style of composition that is phrasal, structuralist and melodic with harmonic topography as only a secondary consideration. With the maturation of their style, Obliveon settled for using death metal song structures to enclose heavy metal riffs wrapped around a harmony that emerges to conclude each song, letting melody walk into both phrasal and tonal structure to conclude each song.
The downside of this hybrid is sometimes jarring disconnects in continuity, and every third riff ends up bouncy and neo-nu-metal in its attempts to mimick the funk-influenced expectation-based offbeat framed rhythms of later progressive rock. From shredders like Joe Satriani, lead melodic rhythm playing with a rigid not loose rhythmic pattern enters this music; from death metal comes the structure of songs, and the tremolo riffs used to conclude clusters of related riff ideas; from jazz and rock, open chords and harmony as a means of guiding structural development; from speed metal, most prominently Metallica and Voivod, come the muted strum riffs in tight pocket integration with drums that make up the bulk of the riffs on this album: these are the ingredients of a hybrid united by the shadow of death metal structure.
Resembling in some ways early technical efforts like Cadaver and Pestilence, Obliveon try to bring the technique of three generations of rock, jazz fusion, and classical-influenced progressive rock into metal, and succeed in that individual parts of songs demonstrate a power barely tapped by others exploring this field. However, by bringing in so much, they lose the unity of vision felt on the first album, and this influences their decision to tie this CD together with rhythmic speed metal riffs that are even simpler than the death metal variants. Had they expanded on their ideas in a death metal context, we would be thinking of them as first-line death metal today.