A Review of Beautiful Oblivion

An album with confusing identities, in the best way possible.

Yishi Wang, Online Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






After finishing my first walk through of Issues’ new album, Beautiful Oblivion, I was in a state that could only be described as oblivion. I had no idea what had just happened during the last 46 minutes.

Knowing that Issues is a rising metalcore band based in Atlanta, I expected to hear a somewhat hard-hitting album with showy guitar riffs, progressive background, and “djent,” a lower-than-usual guitar tone, which was first introduced by metal giant Meshuggah but by now has become borderline synonymous to metalcore and is a combination of progressive metal and hardcore punk. 

But Beautiful Oblivion surprised me. Sure, djent is not absent in the album, but it simply is not meant to be the prominent ingredient as it is in the works of other metalcore bands (check out any song by Periphery and you’ll know exactly what I mean). Instead, djent and other metalcore components simply build a foundation that progresses the album along at a steady pace. 

The real flourish in this album is Issues’s masterful infusion of elements that are rarely associated with metal: pop and flares of R&B. 

Yes, that is right. Metal and pop. 

Despite their unique features, metal and pop actually fare quite well when melted together in Beautiful Oblivion. According to junior Gunnar Clingman, the resident PDS metalhead, “this band somehow took R&B and metalcore guitarist and made it listenable; I’ve never thought anything with that vocal style would be good, but it is.”

What I noticed at first was the lack of harsh vocals, another signature part of any metal genre. Instead, every line—most related to love and at times cheesy—is expressed by Tyler Carter, whose voice is a natural mix of grabbing and playful tones and, at times, is even comparable to that of pop icon Justin Timberlake. I never thought I would like anything remotely resembling that generic sound, but I have to admit that Carter’s voice is magnetic. It isn’t superb or flamboyant; it just works.

Listen to Beautiful Oblivion on SoundCloud 

 

The instrumental aspects of the album are even more intriguing. There are tough parts with familiar djent-y power chords backed by heavy distortion. However, there are also playful, lighthearted, and funky guitar sections that add a frisky personality to the tunes. The synth work, with its incorporation of various organ, electronic, and ambient patches, reminds me of pop music and its catchy composition. The layering of different sounds makes the album smooth, bouncy, and fluffy. All of these experimental metalcore compositions are supported by a bass line that slaps, adding depth and connecting all the instruments together without muffling their distinct characteristics. Compared to other elements, percussion in this album appears somewhat more ordinary and boring, but it nonetheless keeps the beat while also maintaining a metal-pop fusion mood. 

The track that perfectly represents the metal and pop fusion is Without You. It has a pop start, but the instrumental gradually becomes heavier, leading listeners to the band’s metalcore identity. Overall, this song reaches a desirable balance between mainstream genres and metalcore’s experimental heavy roots. 

This may be metal’s future. Traditional metal subgenres, such as black, death and thrash, will undoubtedly continue to have zealous enthusiasts, but moderate albums like Beautiful Oblivion can be more appealing to surface-level metal listeners and may even help metal flourish on a larger stage.

The album title, Beautiful Oblivion, may indeed be forecasting the extinction of an era of metal and its metamorphoses into a wondrous new genre of metal fusion.