Oberon - The Sleep Produces Monsters (2018) Review
“The Sleep Produces Monsters” is the first EP of the Italy based band, Oberon. Formed in the autumn of 2015, Oberon drew inspiration from a variety of genres, ranging from Black Sabbath to Gentle Giant, in their debut album to produce music without limits. “The Sleep Produces Monsters”, on the other hand, is centered more on the heavy sound of electric guitar riffs, which are constructed in a way to embellish the concept behind the EP: “mental instability of the human being, governed by his fears, in conflict with himself, troubled by anxieties and visions arising from his mind.” Although the EP was released in 2018, we believe that it is the perfect time to give it a listen, considering the current state of the world.
1. Time to Sleep Pt. 1 (5:15)
The opening track starts out with a short 5/4 guitar part, with a bass guitar backing it. For the first minute, this duo of instruments sets an atmosphere of a small room, with the sound coming from a small amp. Time to sleep. The rest of the song is composed of linear hard rock riffs, which honestly didn't interest me too much. What interested me in this track was the blend of the organ solo and the hard rock riff, starting at 2:50. Later, you will see that this is one of Oberon's specialities, executed best in "Visions."
2. Nightmares with Open Eyes (1:55)
"Nightmares with Open Eyes" is a song that is based around overdriven electric guitar riffs and 4/4 drumming. The faint sound from the cowbell was also integrated into the later parts of the song (though we need more cowbell.) The song certainly carries the influence of the heavy sound from the 70s, and it acts as a nice bridge between "Time to Sleep Pt. 1", which has a similar angsty tone, and "Visions", which starts off softer but comes back to the heavy sound of "Nightmares with Open Eyes". The EP's overall theme is reflected in its shortest song.
3. Visions (4:48)
A out of scale arpeggio from Oberon would probably be the most unexpected thing we can get from an artist that made a hard-rock driven album. While this initial arpeggio of swing continues for a while, the bass and drums complement each other with an addition of reverbed guitar. Although the intro is long and softer, the transition to the upcoming phrygian riff carries the signature sound of Oberon, where he is able to bring his general energy to the song with the repeated riff, the uplifting organ solo and fast paced 4/4 drumming. While the song makes a dramatic turn at the last minute o a more bluesy outro, we experienced all the aspects of Oberon’s music--from slow alt rock, to blues, to 70s proggy hard rock.
4. Obsession (2:14)
The hard rock oriented style of Oberon sometimes obscures the band's drummer's capabilities. "Obsession"s intro gives him a chance to shine. The cymbal rudiments here impressed me so much that I listened to it a few times to get it down. The riff after the one that follows reminded me of Master of Puppets, but a slightly happier version. The second guitar layered beneath especially gives off a beach rock vibe that I totally dig.
5. Strange Shadows (3:05)
"Strange Shadows" has probably the heaviest riff of the album where Oberon goes between different riffs non-stop. Stop tonality of the guitars sound especially well on this track, where they are double and even triple tracked at some places. Considering the instant rhythm-riff changes and abrupt transitions, composition wise this song shows how complicated and intricate Oberon wants his songs to be--aiming to be a creative mixture of many different genres. His whole vibe and style resembles his artwork, where he is ready to take over the rock-music scene with just black and white--with just guitars and drums.
6. Time to Sleep Pt. 2 (7:16)
The track opens with a riff similar to "Time to Sleep Pt. 1", where together they create a narrative structure for the EP. The ever-changing guitar riffs along with the prominent and vibrant bass sound is a heavy reminiscent of Rush; particularly "La Villa Strangiato", where fast sections feel like getting faster, and slower sections seem to get slower.
In instrumental rock songs, a band should pay extra attention to the dynamic range of the sections because the same tempo and rhythm can get boring very quickly (especially with loud distorted guitars). Perhaps even calmer sections with more instrumental variety can help balance the track; Rush showed that this was possible in prog, and Oberon has the potential to expand upon it.