Review Summary: Into Oblivion give a breath of fresh air with "Alone," and offer a listening experience that stands out from average deathcore.
Into Oblivion is a metalcore/progressive deathcore band from Munich, Germany. "Alone" is the bands second self-produced, full-length album and was released in 2016. The lineup on "Alone" consists of vocalist Nick Singleton, guitarists Alex Faessen and Milan Radisavljevic, bass guitarist Pablo Kummer, and drummer Tim Gruber; all founding members of the band. This album features 8 tracks with a total running time of a little over 30 minutes.
Into Oblivion released "The Funeral" in 2014, gaining moderate popularity in their home country and other parts of Europe. The success led to them sharing the stage with some big names such as Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Oceano, and fellow countrymen Caliban. Into Oblivion utilizes very down-tuned guitars and bass combined with Nick's varying vocal styles to deliver punishing grooves and head-banging breakdowns while maintaining a melancholic mood. Singleton's lyrics convey themes of fear, anger, and suffering with lines like "the problem with progress is you can't stop what's already happening [...] next time you'll be knocking straight on my grave," and "...so I grab my gun, and make all their bodies go to waste." These lyrics are delivered mainly through mid-range shouts (think Tim Goergen, previously of Within the Ruins), but Singleton also shows that he is no novice when it comes to guttural growls, false-chord type lows, and even clean singing. The production style of "Alone" further adds to the mood by including some electronic sections used in introductions to certain tracks or accents during some of the bridge sections and breakdowns.
The instruments on the album are mixed fairly well. The guitars are crisp yet dark, and are put front and center in the mix, emphasizing their attack and spearheading the many grooves found through the track list. The bass guitar, while low in the mix, provides the necessary "boom" to accent the down-tuned guitars and does well in keeping the rhythm though each song, as intended. Finally, the drums are punchy and pronounced without be overpowering and keep the tempo well while adding just enough personal flare to not go unnoticed throughout the album. Most songs consist of mid-tempo groove and chugging riffs that have the satisfying quality of actually being catchy, keeping the listeners attention over the 30 minute run time. Breakdowns are used tastefully throughout, and these sections are quite powerful but varied enough that no two sound exactly the same.
The good: Into Oblivion have managed to create 8 tracks that have a familiar sound without becoming monotonous or recycled, and have ordered the track list perfectly to maintain variety through the album. "Cagefight" opens the album with a tense electronic ontro that sends the listener head first into a series of groove riffs that go from bruising to bouncy, serving as a great introduction to what this album is all about. Later in the album, "Ov Crimson Appeal" brings in some of the catchiest riffs of the album and it's frequent tempo changes will keep the listener's attention. "Dirty Waters" is another big track that capitalizes on the use of atmospheric elements to drive home the overall mood of the track. The highlight of the album is the monstrous "Behind Closed Doors," showcasing all the Into Oblivion bring to the table. The song contains catchy grooves, a stellar vocal performance, tasteful guitar solo, eerie electronic elements, and a crusher of a breakdown. The album ends with "Ephemerality, Pt. 2," an instrumental track that uses its tight grooves, gloomy piano sections, and a surprisingly emotional guitar solo to close the album appropriately. Overall, the songwriting throughout "Alone" is great, and though some tracks really stand out, each track brings something that adds to the quality of the overall experience.
The bad: Fans of technical guitar-wizardry will not find much to sink their teeth into on this album. If the musicians have indeed above average abilities, they chose instead to focus on solid songwriting rather than display technical skill, for better or for worse. The production on "Alone" is great, especially for a self-produced effort, however the bass guitar is very low in the mix and seldom is clearly audible and there are moments when the vocals also get muddled under the volume of the guitars. Finally, some listeners may not appreciate "Forging," an instrumental track solely made up of keyboard work and synth pads, that uses valuable time in an already short album that could've been used for an additional performance by the band.
The bottom line: "Alone" gives fans of the genre a relatively fresh experience and capitalizes on good songwriting to to provide an experience that's a cut above their counterparts. Into Oblivion have managed to put together several tracks that offer a little something for everyone, and many great moments that will have the listener headbanging along with them. There are more than a few memorable moments in "Alone," which is a quality not found very often in the genre. Into Oblivion has yet to see major or widespread attention, but fans of metalcore and deathcore alike would do themselves a good service by giving this album a listen.