I don't know what the hell "street metal" is or is supposed to sound like but I DO know it has taken me one hell of a long time to decide how I feel about self proclaimed street-metallers Ancient Obliteration and their EP Destruction From The Past. In some respects it's a really interesting listen and in other places I can't find enough ceiling tiles to count. Yet in other places, I am left scratching my head till there are red streaks across my forehead where my index finger has left a permanent gaping wound. Destruction From The Past was released practically a year ago and contains five songs interluded with ambient sections and eerie moody atmospheres. Three of those songs are older and two are newer songs written and recorded with the current line-up of Geoff Olson (Vocals), Leslie Hurteau (Bass, Vocals), Jacob Absolon (Guitar) and Marcell Fraser (Drums).
What I think I find so confusing about this release is how Ancient Obliteration make it seem so vital to keep the ambient moody sections out of the real tracks and instead as just introductions to all the tracks. Not following? Haven't heard the disc? Of the five songs on display, each track is separated by an ambient introduction / filler track. A prime example of this would also be this year's 1349 album, Demonior, where 1349 have done the exact same thing. While Ancient Obliteration have make a conscious effort to remove all atmosphere from the tracks, 1349 have carried the moods into and across their songs. I side with the later in this case though if Ancient Obliteration did use some of that ambiance in their songs, the layering would create a strange effect of thrashy uneasiness. It would at least elevate the generally mediocre riffs into a territory that hasn't been explored much in thrash. I don't think the result would be unlike a very amateur Mithras.
Ancient Obliteration tackle subjects such as monsters, strange phenomenon and occasionally feel tempted to toss in some occult imagery. Basically a strange Japanese styled monster flick written by H.P. Lovecraft and backed by a thrash soundtrack. What I like about the way that Ancient Obliteration approach these subjects, which could easily sound tired and childish, is that they simply don't. There is enough care taken to prevent their themes from sounding like a gimmick and anyone who knows me also knows I don't find gimmick bands in the least bit enjoyable. Case and point - Ancient Obliteration sound way less forced and tired than at least a dozen nameable newer thrash bands talking about zombies and beer - coughGamaBombcough - or any band writing songs about red-bearded one legged pirates raping your mom and pillaging your meager and pathetic record collection on a mission to destroy all your other pirate themed metal.
With opening track "Tokyo Tower" paving the way with some subtle far-eastern influences (particularly in some of the percussion), the songs start of rather strong though "Of Wisdom and Madness" contains a main riff akin to watching a very chaotic washing machine and dryer doing battle. Leslie Hurteau's bass is also quite loudly mixed... everywhere... and overpowers other instruments. Cool Leads near the ending of the song make up for dueling appliances but only slightly. "Portal Beast" comes next and is almost my favorite song but it is performed a little too sloppily and just doesn't seem to flow as well as "Tokyo Tower" or my favorite track "Shogun." At times the vocals in this song seem like a total afterthought. Speaking of afterthoughts..."Defiler" is so forgettable that I almost forgot to even mention it though a pretty sick bass solo rounds out the track.
But "Shogun" makes this demo worth hearing. It has great intensity, urgency and most importantly, great riffs that make the other songs seem trite. The guitar solo is awesome. The track simply ends the release on a high-note. My only complaint comes with mixing. Leslie is once more a bit too loud for my tastes - heresy being a bassist myself I know - but at other times, the mixing is really good so, I don't know... The last forty or so seconds are my favorite moments of the whole release and are the closest Ancient Obliteration come to creating atmosphere within the songs themselves. While this song is really good, it also is so far superior in quality to other tracks that I wonder why some of the older songs would even be considered. Being a newer song, I would have loved to see more newer material on the disc (I'm willing to look past "Defiler" in a hope that other songs would be as good as "Shogun.") This all said, I'm not convinced the "street metal" tag will catch on or even makes sense at all, but I like the music these guys are conjuring and with some more time to ferment and more attention to details I'm pretty sure Ancient Obliteration will raise a few eyebrows.