Axis of Advance - _Obey_
by: Matthias Noll (
Axis of Advance definitely is one of the most unique entities in today's extreme metal subgenres. Visually, from the logo to the booklet, this band obviously puts an unusual amount of quality work into their albums and adheres to certain stylistic principles that are instantly recognizable and clearly unique. The lyrics follow album frameworks or themes, are thought-provoking, diverse and superior to most bands playing comparably violent, attacking music. The core of their sound is a crazy mixture of death, grind, black and thrash metal where are all the musical ingredients are interwoven and blended into each other, accompanied by black-metallish vocals and played in seemingly chaotic fashion with maximum insanity.When looking for suitable comparisons, I see strong similarities to their countrymen VoiVod at the time of their more extreme albums that range from _War and Pain_ to _Killing Technology_ and maybe _Dimension Hatross_. Like VoiVod at the top of their game, Axis of Advance have their own identity and distinct style encompassing visuals, lyrics and musical content. Although AoA do not sound -like- VoiVod and even if _War and Pain_ appears like chill-out type stuff in comparison to _Obey_, both bands' music does have a comparable twisted, disharmonic, futuristic and left-field character.In comparison to AoA's previous album, _The List_, _Obey_ is stripped-down and less diverse, and the band's aim for this album seems to have been to become more impact-oriented and bludgeoning. Due to the use of Berno studios, the sound is much more ferocious and voluminous this time around and everything sounds bigger, better and heavier than on _The List_ -- especially the guitar sound, which is much thicker, more distorted and downtuned. A side-effect of this is that some of the clarity got traded away for more brutality. Every AoA album so far has been challenging and confusing at first, and without headphones I would probably never have gotten a grip on _The List_, but at times and even with headphones it becomes difficult to discern what exactly is being played on _Obey_. However, I feel that this doesn't hurt the music and it appears to me to be a conscious and appropriate decision, as the new material is more direct and simply requires such sonic overdrive.One of the absolute highlights of this record is J. Read's unbelievable, insane drumming: there might be better drummers in a technical sense, but when it comes to identity and personality he is without a doubt among the very best out there. His drumming plays a major role in shaping AoA's musical personality.Although overall I like _The List_ slightly better than _Obey_, simply because there was much more to discover and because I feel that it is the better album as far as longevity is concerned, AoA have created another monster of a record.
(article published 12/31/2004)
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