1. INTo the R.O. 2. Mentality failure 3. Redefination of the past 4. Lost between emotions 5. Starsend 6. 1 of the 4 7. Nostalgic idealization 8. Dreamworks 9. OUT of the R.O.
Oblomov of the Czech Republic have this ‘fame’ thing all worked out. Their music is essentially melodic death metal of the old school, but with a few stylistic flourishes and a clever marketing they have transformed that rather mundane original template of ‘melodeath’ into a mysterious cosmic experiment, part black, part death, and with a dash of avant-garde. With this illustrious packaging, Oblomov become immediately more appealing for marketers and audiences alike. And while it is difficult to find fault with the promoters for backing this quality effort, it might have been prudent not to label it quite so ‘extreme’—the hype makes for an anticlimactic finish.
That being said, ‘Mighty Cosmic Dances’ still does have a notable quirky side. The most obvious example of this would be the saxophone (brass being an instrument family not entirely unused in metal—see: Ephel Duath, Sear Bliss and Arcturus for other, real (i.e. not synthesized) examples) used on a couple of songs, most notably ‘Lost Between Emotions’ which is the featured single of the album. Though not really used in a particularly progressive or experimental sense, the simple fact that it is used at all demonstrates the uncommon orientation of this group. Oblomov’s vocals also are rather difficult to pinpoint—they are half-rasps, half-growls that fall closer to Grutle Kjellson of Enslaved than anything else.
Another thing they share with Enslaved is a general atmosphere of separation from the standard metal ideology. The musical techniques employed here—growls, quick drumbeats, thick riffs, etc., all are used by other bands to communicate ‘heaviness’, but Oblomov somehow avoid those tenets almost entirely. This impartial atmosphere is what makes the presence of the synth strobes, the saxophone, and their classic riff style all work together so well despite their inherent differences. Oblomov have had such phrases as ‘utter chaos’ and ‘avant-garde’ tacked on as descriptions, but both those terms suggest an inherent structural instability that is completely absent from Oblomov’s style. Their foundation is really quite solid, based in Scandinavian melodic metal (e.g. Dark Tranquillity or the aforementioned Enslaved’s later work) typified by a natural flow and familiar appeal that subtly avoids the stereotypes.
In fact, this foundation may be a little too solid at times. Perhaps it is simply the marketing hyperbole regarding Oblomov’s experimental nature, but it seems as if they rely upon that hype to carry their weight while the music itself sometimes lags behind in entirely palatable and conventional realms. If one does not approach this album assuming it will be especially chaotic or abstract, though, these passages will likely not seem out of place or boring at all.
For a debut, ‘Mighty Cosmic Dances’ is a surprisingly mature and self-assured work. The brass elements are well placed and tastefully brief, as an accentuation on an already positive impression rather than as a gimmick.
In fact, this album is all-around one of the most consistent of the year; its packaging, production, lyrical themes, and actual material are all well prepared and executed. Oblomov have done well for themselves, and are poised to make quite a mark indeed with the follow up; they may not yet be ‘Mighty’, but the ‘Cosmic Dance’ has most assuredly begun.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details