OBERON  Techen Metal  LP   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)   19.99

Man, if there's a record that I've picked up recently that just screams "outsider metal", it's this collection of recordings from an obscure Bulgarian band called Oberon. Nuclear War Now put this out a little while back, gathering together the band's 1993 Liquid Metal, all of their recorded material glued together with vomit, over-the-top blasphemy, and a totally batshit approach to songwriting and atmopshere. This stuff is nuts. Just from the sleeve art and the structure of the first song "Devil's children", it is obvious that these guys had been spendinh an inordinate amount of their free time listening and worashipping the jmusic of OG Satanic rippers Venom, working to channel that primitive black thrash sound and hellish imagery into their own frantic vision. Some of the classic early NWOBHM stuff clearly had an effect on them as well, as certain elements of that sound crop up here and there on songs like " Hell Awaits You". So far, so good, so slaytanic. But as you progress through these fourteen songs, something starts to sound increasingly wrong and warped, you realize that the guitar and bass sound inordinaztely blown-out and overmodulated, like they are being lined in directly to the recording deck. And then "Guts Of Death" comes on and it's this freaking whacked-out major key prog-punk type thing mixed with some more sloppy thrash / speed metal , screaming guitar solos that sound like they could have tumbled off an errant Molly Hatchet record, and those gross gurgling shrieks that occupy just about every corner of this record. By this point, I'm in love - within four songs, the dudes in Oberon have completely electrocuted my brain.

And it's on from there to pretty instrumental guitar arpeggios blossoming into insane necrotic thrash that constantly sounds on the verge of falling apart, then jumping into these vicious mid-tempo mosh breaks, more bursts of freakazoid heavy metal shredding and barbaric blasting drums, the songs starting and stopping in often seemingly arbitrary points. With all this going on, it all sounds legit menacing too, even with those bizarre almost poppy parts that spring up every few songs. At it's core, this is primitive Venom worship but filtered through the depraved minds of these young guys, that underlying lo-fi blackthrash tearing through the bulk of the collection. It's just so undeniably weird, I mean really weird, delivered through a mixture of energetic but inexperienced instrumental prowess and a coompleteky zonked-out feel for how to write a song. The results are glorious. Now that I think about, it dawned on me that I originally learned about these guys after reading about 'em on the ever-awesome "Noise Metal" list put together by one "MarsHottentot"' on the RateYourMusic.com site, a list that's at this piint like some kind of lost biblical text for me , a kind of "Nurse with Wound list" for addicts of the most berserk, low-fidelity fringes of underground metal over the decades. It's crucial, and these guys belong on it. "Deceiver" is an insane blast of noisecore-esque ultra-chaos with crazed widdly shreddin, yet another wild diversion alongside the accidental prog bits, mutated formless thrash, brain-damaged erratic dirge workouts, long bouts of freeform screaming and gibberish, moments where it sounds like the whole band is trying to perform in the midst of a 7.0 earthquake; shit goes completely mental on the song "Liquid Metal", where it sounds like the guitarist is attempting to play the main riff from Metallica's "Seek & Destroy" while everything else is this fucked-up, sludgy lurching mess that feels like a largely improvised goon-punk freakout a la Kilslug or something. Looking at the notes , it states that this berserk chaos comes from the band' s "Nine Circles Of Hell" rehearsal tape recorded in March '93 in a local community center - imagine, if you will, a four-track collision of Witching Metal-era Sodom , Drunks With Guns, and Hanatarash. These recordings feel a bit like that. This stuff has apparently never been previously released, and it is brain-glazingly nuts. I'm talking about a Shaggs-like approach to speed/thrash, they've got the energy and aggression in spades, but the delivery comes out completely unique and disconnected, and thus inadvertantly brilliant. At least for me. Nuclear War Now mentions the far-away but like-minded strangeness of the Colombian "ultra metal" likes of Blasfemia, Parabellum, and Reencarnación, and that's pretty accurate as far as letting you know just how fucked up and psychotic Oberon's music is. Not for those seeking sanity in their metal, for sure. One of the best things I've experienced lately, I can tell you that.

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