Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Obliveon - Carnivore Motormouth

More band woes, more delays, no international touring . . . yet Obliveon keep moving forward, creating well-crafted albums that touch on a number of metal areas. Most notable change this time is the increased level of groove, something accomplished despite the overt and bubbly space and techno feel, something akin to Fear Factory before the fall, more organic, recorded with sparkle by guitarist and ascendant recording engineer Pierre Remillard, who did Anvil's Speed Of Sound. The riffs are massive like old Machine Head (see Such A Quiet River and Polarity) and neo-metal ideas are plentiful, leaning more toward the measured technology of Sevendust than Korn-isms, Obliveon finding a way to assemble logical songs that remain organic at the core, Bruno Bernier's vocals sounding like a cross between non-extreme death metal, Sepultura's Derrick Green and on occasion, Tom Araya. Call me wimp, but fave would be Fatal Induction, which mixes in fine Voivodian fashion progressive beats and cloudbusting melodies come chorus time.
Rating 7.5

Gardenian - Soulburner
(Nuclear Blast)

Second record out for Sweden's Gardenian is a less death-like affair (yeah!), adding all sorts of accessible melody, strident grooves and little Maiden runs, a direct derivative I'm sure of the success of bands like Arch Enemy, The Haunted, Katatonia, God Dethroned and a half dozen cleaned-up high profile black metal acts. The result is a pure and malevolent metal that kills pussy power metal dead, despite the band's posies and daisies moniker! Ex-Artch vocalist Erik Hawk cameos on more than half the album, Gardenian adding one more of many fleeting accessible surprises, mixing up the velocities and prog flourishes smartly, while pasting the listener to the wall with harsh, midrangey production values and slightly death-like vocals much of the time. A nice apocalyptic flare to the thing.
Rating 8

Samael - Eternal
(Century Media)

Pretty much a techno band at this point, Samael have evolved from black metal, through a pleasing and epic mainstream metal sound, to this strange hybrid before you now. Samael's evil past and their earnest artistry is assurance that Eternal doesn't full-on suck. Vocals are still somewhat deathy, guitars churn through most every track, and the record is uncompromisingly dark and gothic. But there are a lot of keyboard, computer tricks and (gah?!) disco beats, Samael finding a somewhat novel tribal drum sound that pulses each somber Rammstein-ish soul-smudge. Come to think of it, for a metal band (and a Swiss one at that), they are actually quite adept at this marriage between metal and wafer technology, sucking the listener capably and confidently into their vortex of foreboding emotion, pacing their numerous ideas wisely throughout, top-spinning the thing with an enigmatic space theme. Still an epic band, Samael are no doubt going to lose a bunch of fans for doing this, even if the wide format urge to greatness still burns within their vision.
Rating 7.5

Jetboy - Make Some More Noise
Broken Teeth - Broken Teeth

(both Perris)

While I'm glad records like this Jetboy thing happen, it's more about completism than anything. And you have to really be a hair band fan to care. Make Some More Noise is a hodgepodge of demos, discarded songs, and shopping tracks spanning five years of failure from '87 to '92. And it's all quite bland, justifying the failure, Jetboy being one of the pieces of roadkill that snuffed this genre. The overall sound is like Great White crossed with Poison, a pale and sickly party metal shackled in fake blues. Too many signings, too little talent. On the other hand, Broken Teeth is the real deal, old hair guys coming back full of piss and vinegar, in this case Jason McMaster and Paul Lidel from the under-rated Dangerous Toys doing their best High Voltage, measured intensity, measured minimalism, like true scholars of the old school, great vocals, wiseacre lyrics, all in all a reminder of the happy juice we all chugged with Jackyl. www.perrisrecords.com.
Rating 4, 8