Released: 1999, Hypnotic Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Step aside Fear Factory, and let the new kings of cyber metal take over! "Carnivore Mothermouth", Obliveon's fourth opus, sees the band taking their music to the next level. Gone are the days of technical death-thrash, which I must admit is sad, because technical music just plainly RULES. But these guys have progressed naturally, each album being a logical step forward from its predecessor.
Upon listening to this album, Fear Factory comparisons will do doubt be drawn, both from stylistic and sonic angles. But do you know what? I don't care! Because as far as I'm concerned, these guys crush Fear Factory! Obliveon has been around since the mid '80s, and have released two demos, four albums, and one limited promo CD (entitled "Planet Claire" which I want very badly, so if any of you have it, email me!!!). The talent of these musicians is of a higher level. Fear Factory, to me, seems to be getting too commercial. I remember picking up "Soul of a New Machine" and being blown away by it. They guys were so unknown at the time, and I felt like I stumbled upon something special. "Demanufacture" was another great album, but saw their popularity rise tremendously. "Obsolete" was a disappointment. Good album, but it resembled "Demanufacture" too much. They are beating the man/machine topic dead. I think it is possible to write a concept album based on this topic, but Fear Factory failed in that the lyrics are too short and cartoonish. And Burton's vocals are getting too typical…the harsh voice really is no longer death-like. And I really do not think he can "sing" well. His vocal phrasings are very predictable. His monotone clean voice on the first album worked well because it contrasted better with the death vocals and it was just nicely disturbing. Plus, I think they've lost some of their eerieness. And what's with this image thing? They are in danger of grouping themselves with all that other baggy-pants crap. All they need are rapping vocals and they're all set. I am fearing the day I walk into a grocery store and see Fear Factory stickers available for a quarter in those gum ball machines they place in the vestibule. Don't get me wrong, Fear Factory is great, but they are in danger of becoming stale.
Sorry to bash Fear Factory, but I had to get that off my chest. Now, back to Obliveon. As I said before, these guys have progressed naturally. The last album, "Cybervoid", saw the band musically crossing over into the cyber-metal genre. The music was still a bit technical, but more mechanized. And although it seemed that the band was jumping onto the computer and man-versus-machine topics in their lyrics, it is not so. The band has always used scientific topics in their lyrics…all the way back to their demo days. "Carnivore Mothermouth" continues the style achieved on "Cybervoid" but fully places Obliveon within the cyber-metal genre. (I know, labels are stupid…but guess what, they work). The songwriting is very mechanized, with lots of stop-and-go riffage. But Obliveon manages to create great atmosphere with lots of dynamics. Keyboards are more prominent than earlier material, adding to the spacey sound. Drummer Alain Demers tends to resemble Raymond Hererra of Fear Factory, although Raymond's a little more hyper. But Alain throws in more variation while Raymond leans towards fast-forwarded hip-hop beats. Vocally, Bruno has improved since "Cybervoid" and uses lots of variation to keep things interesting. The scientific themes continue to dominate their lyrics. The great thing about Obliveon's lyrics is their vocabulary, which is so much more well-rounded and thought provoking than say…Fear Factory. The production was handled by the band and engineering by guitarist Pierre Remillard. "Cybervoid" was probably the best sounding album I have ever heard. "Carnivore Mothermouth" is also very polished, with perfect balance between all instruments including the bass guitar. Pierre is a superior producer (for more proof listen to Gorguts' "Obscura"). My only disappointment is that there are no guitar leads! I HATE it when a band that used to do guitar leads no longer does them. But, Obliveon keeps things interesting enough in the guitar department so you won't really notice they're missing right away. And like the previous album, "Carnivore Mothermouth" contains one song ("Desert Incorporel") sung in French! I don't speak the language, so to me it makes it more interesting for me. Besides, it's a way to learn a different language without knowing what the hell you're saying!
These Canadians need your attention if you like no-bullshit metal! It amazes me that quality bands like Obliveon get no attention. But yet the band has managed to keep its debut-album lineup together for ten years (with the exception of the addition of vocalist Bruno Bernier)! I respect this. The band has also managed to officially release their first demo ("Whimsical Uproar") on CD, reissue their second album ("Nemesis") with a new booklet layout, and re-issue their debut ("From This Day Forward") complete with new artwork, layout, and remastered! This is an impressive band and I urge lovers of technical metal to check them out. Visit their very killer web site http://www.obliveon.com
for lots of information.