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Review: Obsession - Methods of Madness
Methods of Madness

Label: Metal Mayhem Music
Year released: 2000
Originally released in: 1987
Duration: 48:29
Tracks: 11
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: December 25, 2009
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
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Rated 4.31/5 (86.25%) (16 Votes)

Classic metal has staying power, which is why most of the new generation of metal fans still get started on legendary bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica. When was the last time you heard about a rap fan discovering the genre through NWA and Public Enemy? Such things just don’t happen. That is what makes metal so special. Metal fans look back and discover roots like Judas Priest and Helloween. After these classics, those devoted fans look deeper and find lesser known but important bands like Running Wild and Fates Warning. Sadly though, some bands, despite releasing strong albums, have become largely forgotten. There’s an endless supply of these bands, so that the classic Heavy Metal fan’s discovery of new music is a neverending journey. One of these bands is Connecticut’s Obsession. Their 1987 album Methods of Madness captures that moment in metal history where choruses become a bit more melodic and the bass drum was more prevalent: traditional metal was seeing glimpses of what was to become Power Metal.

Obsession play classic Heavy Metal with a bit more pop (not the genre!) and melody. The riffs are often melodic leads reminiscent of Iron Maiden. Oftentimes, guitarists Bruce Vitale and Art Maco use dual guitar harmonies to create a slew of catchy licks. The riffs run the gamut from simple yet effective (“For the Love of Money”) to driving and forceful (“Killer Elite”). Added to the mix is Michael Vescera, who isn’t just a run of the mill vocalist, either. He sounds much like Halford when belting out shrill high notes, but shines most when he utilizes his unique mid range. Moments like the choruses to “High Treason” and “Methods of Madness” exemplify Vescera’s ability to create suspense with his voice, taking the songs’ moods into tenser and more evocative levels. Through these stellar vocals and dual guitars, Obsession create a tense mood throughout the album.

But it’s not all good. Obsession’s incorporation of more melodic influences border on the glammy side of things in a few songs. “Too Wild to Tame” sounds like it came straight from the studio of Motley Crue, or even worse, Warrant. Even Vescera’s often creative vocals are tired and uninspired. The last minute of the song features him belting out the same vocal line for nearly a minute straight. The next song, “Always on the Run” is no different. It’s traditional glam: poppy and derivative, and geared straight towards the mainstream. Maybe Obsession was trying to draw a larger audience into their stronger songs with these two tracks. Whatever their intent, these songs stand out far too much and detract from the album’s forceful classic metal themes. By the time the album’s energetic song “Panic in the Streets” plays, the power and flow of the album is lost, leaving the song much sounding weaker than it actually is.

The new sound of Power Metal begins to seep its way into this album on two tracks that have been tacked onto this reissue. The final two songs, “Missing You” and “Waiting for Your Call” have really catchy choruses and bring in stronger melodic influences, punctuated by Vescera’s soaring vocals. It’s strange that these two songs, the most “power metally” of any of them, were left off the original release. Maybe they were pressured by the label to stick with a tried and true style as opposed to experimentation. That would explain the more glammy songs on the album, as maybe those resulted from label pressure as well.

Despite the glam elements, this reissue brings a good but little known band to a larger fan base. The glam influences are nothing but pandering and catering to the mainstream, but Obsession’s unique blend of classic metal and strong melody overcomes such setbacks. This album is an emblem of when Heavy Metal was both prolific and great: a must for any fan of classic metal.

More about Obsession...
Review: Carnival of Lies (reviewed by Adam Kohrman)
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