Review Summary: Symbolic but a 3.5/5
In 1995, Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine reviewed the eternal classic metal masterpiece Symbolic by metal legends Death, but gave it a shockingly low 3/5 rating. Erlewine wrote of Symbolic “some of the riffs are beginning to sound a little tired and there is no great leap forward in terms of their musical ideas” and the mass majority disagreed then and now. Most would agree that Symbolic is one of the most power, beautiful, and influential pieces of metal ever written...but what did Erlewine hear that was so standardly 3/5? After Oblivion’s Stamina may enlighten us.
Hailing from Bosnia, After Oblivion are a progressive metal band that, well, sound pretty gosh darn similar to Death, primarily Death’s 6th album, Symbolic. After Oblivion lifts a lot of its style from the aforementioned album, with its precise technicality, sudden tempo changes, lyrical themes discussing philosophy and social enlightenment instead of generic metal topics like violence or politics, and especially the instantly recognizable vocal technique frontman Adnan Hatic utilizes. Even the riff style is akin to that of Symbolic. But this is where we reach our first big difference. Symbolic riffs, and it riffs hard. Stamina does not.
Adnan Hatic appears to be taking on the role of Bosnian Chuck Schuldiner, lending his duties to vocals, both rhythm and lead guitar, bass, and the sole lyricist and composer. The man is very obviously inspired by Schuldiner, and is also very talented, but seems to be lacking in his ability to write music like Chuck could. Most of the songs sound identical to the last. Variation on the album is extremely minimal. There aren’t many great riffs on the album either, as most of them either sound far too similar to each other or simply don’t really allow for the heaviness or catchiness to kick in. Missing from Symbolic (and truly excellent metal albums in general) is the soul, the power, and the atmosphere. Stamina is a good album, but it doesn’t really have gravitas or goosebumps-giving chills that it should.
However, with all that said, Stamina is still a very good album. I genuinely feel bad for ripping on it as much as I did because After Oblivion are a very talented band in the performance department and Stamina has a lot of great moments throughout its runtime. Adnan Hatic does a great job delivering his vocal capabilities, but his guitar work should especially be praised. Hatic is possibly one of the most underrated metal guitarists on the modern scene. Some of his solos, such as the one featured on “Septic Minds” is one of the best solos I think I’ve ever heard, at least in the metal genre. Many of the riffs actually do come close to being great, but are seemingly missing those one or two notes to fully complete the riffage circle of awesomeness. In fact, many of the songs on their own are very good, including “Breeding Perdition”, “For The Rebels”, “Deliverance”, and the title track. The issue is that these songs sound way too similar to each other on a straight-through beginning-to-end listen, and the album fairs much better listening to one song at a time.
What ever happened to After Oblivion? Not even Metal Archives knows, listing their band status as “unknown” on their database. It’s a shame, because Stamina displays massive promise for After Oblivion. Maybe a few albums down the line, after establishing their own distinguished sound, After Oblivion could’ve evolved into something very imposing and impressive on the modern metal scene. Many bands, including Meshuggah, Neurosis, Pantera, and Faith No More started off as blatant imitators of their inspiration before branching out into something truly unique, and maybe After Oblivion could’ve been the same. As for now, it appears we’ll never truly know and we’re left with a vrty lllimpressive but too interesting one hit wonder.