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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Visions for people who still want to dream, and listen..."

That quote is from their web page. Oberon is the performance duo of Yuri Crescenzio and Alberto Baretta of Padua, Italy, two young guys with big creative dreams. You can hear it through and through on this delightful debut album, a conceptual work rooted in Greek mythology but seeking to comment on modern dysfunctions as well. The guys are lovers of many classic bands and have sought to create a retro-sound work that provides new adventures for other fans of those days. Prog snobs, bless their hearts, may look down their noses at bands they call "derivative" but I could care less whether a band is seeking to be "progressive." I'm a music fan first.

I was cracking a smile almost from the git-go over what was coming at me. I love it when I hear this kind of pure musical excitement from a band. They are all-over-the-map in the best way, drawing from sounds as divergent as medieval folk, stoner psych-rock, and dark symphonic. I hear bits of Jacula, Spiral, Akron, Hero, Spettri, Fiaba, as well as many vintage RPI bands who would incorporate heavy with acoustic. The production is somewhat primitive sounding but as I mentioned they were going for a 70s underground vibe here I believe, so it works just fine. No gloss is needed for this kind of adventure.

Between the hard rock sections of doomy, at times Sabbath-ey sounding drums and guitar, there are these wonderful breaks where you just drift away to acoustic guitar interludes. The other secret weapon are the spirited vocals of Elena Dainese, bringing some female energy for a nice variation of the sound palette. Her only mistake is singing in English -- it really should be some kind of international artistic crime whenever Italian bands use English. To possess the world's most beautiful language but not use it. Tragic. Nevertheless, the album succeeds anyway. My favorite element here is the fantastic, trippy keyboard parts, providing such rich atmosphere and taking the sound well beyond hard rock. The tracks can be mysterious and classically tinged one moment and driving riffage the next, then off into a dreamy break. The last track is a 9-minute, 4-part suite which will please any fan of heavy keyboard embellished art-rock.

While there is always room for improvement I have to say I was truly charmed by Oberon. These days, I find I appreciate these kinds of passionate homemade projects over the sprawling and stuffy 80 minute, super refined, over-produced monsters. Instead of it being a chore to get through, this album is a joy. In the HamelinProg blog Yuri speaks about his pride in the finished work, where two young men punched through their dream without allowing the inevitable obstacles stand in their way. I can hear their heart beating throughout this work.

I wish them the best on their next album coming in 2017. Kudos to Salus Art for the enchanting album cover.

Report this review (#1683442)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2017 | Review Permalink
The Crow
2 stars First album from this interesting Italian two-man stoner rock-psychedelic project!

And here Crescencio is a true multi-instrumental talent making almost everything while Baretta played the drums and percussions, with the collaboration of Elena Dainese on vocals. The concept of the album revolves around Mount Olympus and its implications in Greek mythology and the lyrics are interesting enough making company to a very Black Sabbath and Deep Purple influenced sound with some glimpses of medieval music which make some songs sound very similar to Blackmore's Night, given the sweet voice of Dainese.

But this sweet voice sadly fits not so good in the stronger songs, where she lacks the strength and punch to make these tracks truly shine. The subpar production is also another weak point of this album, because the drums sound clunky and the guitars not fierce enough to make this stoner-psychedelic ensemble compelling, making the hearing of this album dull and not interesting enough in the long term.

Bes Tracks: The Golden King (a song which would fit in Blackmore's Night discography!), Icarus on Broken Wings (good songwriting here) and the suite Inheritance (the most complex and progressive track of the album)

Conclusion: Oberon started their studio adventure with an album of lights and shades. The lights are some cool tracks and glimpses of very good songwriting inspired in acts like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and other legends of the 70's, and the shades are the unfitting vocals, the weak productions and some uninspired moments which make the hearing of this album rather unpleasant at times.

So, if you want to introduce yourself in the world of Oberon, I recommend you start with their much better produced and written second effort called To Sleep Produces Monsters.

My rating: **

Report this review (#2097598)
Posted Sunday, December 16, 2018 | Review Permalink

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