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Obsession | Order of Chaos

by Mark Allen
– Senior Columnist —

ObsessionAnyone in the mood for some old-school American heavy metal with minimal modern intrusion should run to the nearest store faster than Rosie O’Donnell chasing a Twinkie truck and snag this new Obsession album. The band rose to prominence in the metal world during the ‘80s and while they never rivaled the popularity of Metallica, Testament, or Slayer, plenty of headbangers fell in love with Michael Vescera’s unique, powerful voice. Vescera would later go on to front Loudness, Malmsteen, and Dr. Sin before resurrecting Obsession in 2004. Granted, that reunion album—plus the one that followed in ’06—were received about as well as fake vomit at a Bulimics Anonymous meeting, but Order of Chaos redeems the band’s legacy by giving you everything you loved about Obsession back in the day.

The guitar attack of John Bruno and Scott Boland is a crackling beast infused with a classic ‘80s metal feel. You get harmonic rhythms, light-‘em-up licks, raging riffs, and shredding solos, all done with nary a hint of the down-tuned distortion so beloved by today’s modern metal acts. These axe-slingers would probably be as out of place on the next Devildriver album as a trust fund yuppie at a hippie commune, but they are perfectly suited for the kind of throwback metal Obsession is—pardon the pun—obsessed with. While not as flashy as the sizzling six-strings, the drums and bass get the job done, working in tandem to create the backbone on which the album is built, with beats shifting between spiffy speed-metal salvos to galloping gut-punchers to mid-tempo fist-pumpers.

But as good as the guitarists, bassist, and drummer are, there is no denying the star of the show is Vescera’s vocals. His voice remains mostly unsullied by the passage of time and if he doesn’t sing quite as ferociously as he did in his youth, he still possesses the sneering rasp of a true heavy metal singer. The engineering smartly pushes the vocals toward the front of the mix, keeping them crisp and clean and audible rather than burying them beneath an avalanche of heavy noise as is the current trend in metal music.

The songs come equipped with good hooks and clearly-defined choruses and are graced with multi-tracked backing vocals that lend the metal a melodic edge. Naturally some tracks are more memorable than others, but the quality remains consistently high from start to finish. Well, almost to the finish—the last track is kind of a dullard. But aside from that one misstep, Obsession kicks out one smoking anthem after another and does so without becoming overly repetitive, mixing up tempos and rhythms to keep things interesting. Whether it’s the in-your-face intensity and hammering drum work of “Twist of the Knife,” the clenched fist, gang vocal power of “Forbidden Desire,” or the balls-out heaviness and snap-your-neck fury of “Act of God,” the album offers up plenty of variety to keep boredom at bay.

This is just what retro-metal fans ordered and one of the best examples the genre has served up this year. Gutsy guitars, soaring vocals, heavy melodies, sharp choruses…this is the real deal, the whole enchilada, all that and a bag of chips too. It’s Obsession doing what Obsession do best.

Genre: Heavy Metal

Michael Vescera (vocals)
John Bruno (guitars)
Scott Boland (guitars)
Chris McCarvill (bass)
BJ Zampa (drums)

Track Listing
1. Order of Chaos
2. Twist of the Knife
3. Forbidden Desire
4. When the Smoke Clears
5. License to Kill
6. Wages of Sin
7. Cold Day in Hell
8. Act of God
9. Mercy Killing
10. Dark Shadows

Label: Inner Wound Recordings


Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10


2 Comments on Obsession | Order of Chaos

  1. Rex Rocket // January 2, 2013 at 11:08 am //

    I can’t believe this album didn’t make the “best of 2012” list…. should be up there.

  2. I love this new Obsession album. Pure awesome!

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