Oppressor (United States Of America) – Elements Of Corrosion

Oppressor was a third-string death metal band that attained very (very, very) mild popularity in the mid-’90s before dissolving to the disappointment of about a dozen people.  They’re not amazing but in some ways they’re a rather interesting footnote in the mid-’90s death metal scene that was unfortunately rather forgotten during death metal’s first collapse due to oversaturation.  Their final album, ‘Elements Of Corrosion’, is a strong if somewhat plain release that was probably a good tombstone for this band; I don’t really know where they would have gone from here.  You can find it very cheap in numerous distros these days due to licensing from Crash Music (figures), so I’d recommend you pick it up if you’re a big death metal fan.

I almost consider Oppressor to be a bit of a proto-Origin.  They have very similar styles of riffing at times, with long streams of ultra-fast tremolo picking broken up by sudden, frantic sweeps and tech riffs.  I get a similar feeling of simultaneous claustrophobia and spaciousness from both bands, as if they’re trying to communicate very complex ideas in half the time they should be allowed to.  Vocals are a simple, terse growl and drumming is blast oriented, but Oppressor definitely has a greater traditional death metal influence than Origin ever did, frequently backing down into slower, more groove-oriented sections that the chronologically later group has never really embraced.  Oppressor could conceivably be labeled ‘technical death metal’, but that phrase generally makes me think of bands who are more demonstrative than this music, like Spawn Of Possession.  The technicality isn’t particularly flashy most of the time and reminds me more of Dying Fetus’ fast sections on the band’s early material, with Suffocation-influenced convoluted tremolo picking taking precedence over a more melodic guitar style.

The music is surprisingly catchy and quite musically coherent, though the song structures are rather predictable at times with riffs repeating just where you’d think they would.  It’s fairly aggressive and brutal without losing its sense of direction; it’s more composed-sounding than a lot of death metal from the same era, which perhaps makes sense since Oppressor’s history does extend back into the very early ’90s.  What really handicapped Oppressor’s success during their time was a simple lack of a notable aesthetic or particularly unusual music- like many quality bands, they were damned to really only be listened to by those who would take the time to investigate a fairly random band.  It’s too bad; more death metal could afford to sound as practiced.

Anyway, as I said, copies of this album are laying in piles everywhere, so if you see one, why not pick it up.  It’s oldschool enough for Morbid Angel and Suffocation fans but dynamic and intense enough for more modern death metallers, so you’re really getting, if not the best, a pretty good venn-diagram of both worlds on this album.

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~ by noktorn on September 7, 2008.

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