Obscure Master Plan

New Eden

Nuclear Blast Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I was in high school, one of the things I learned about in my literature classes was something called "hubris," which was a tragic flaw that a hero had in a story or play. The hero of the story was a good person on all other accounts, but this one weakness led to his or her downfall.

The concept of "hubris" kept coming to mind as I listened to the debut effort from New Eden, Obscure Master Plan. On the surface, it's an interesting mixture of heavy metal and progressive music, the brainchild of guitarist Horacio Colmenares (who cut his teeth with Steel Prophet). It's a great idea, the music is sound, but something struck me on the first listen.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I thought it couldn't be true, but subsequent listens confirmed the "hubris" for me: vocalist Tony Devita is often singing off-key. Not all the time, mind you, but enough to let you know that something is wrong. (Listen to the choruses of "Evil Logic" as proof; the band is playing in the key of "E", while Devita is a little sharp.)

This tends to distract from the rest of the album, which is a strong effort otherwise. The band - guitarist/bassist Colmenares (I would have liked to have heard the bass brought up in the mix), guitarist Oscar Gomez, vocalist Devita and drummer Michael Echeveria - offer a new ray of hope to the heavy metal genre, and dare to challenge the listener by throwing in tastes of progressive music.

Of course, you're going to have the zealots who claim that heavy metal is the work of the devil, and lyrics like "Heed these words of satan's breed / They walk the earth; humanity's evil seed" (from "Demons Of Earth") is proof of this. Unfortunately, these same self-righteous cretins don't bother to read the whole lyric sheet; this song is a commentary on mass murderers, and is hardly an endorsement for Satanism (or, for that matter, mass murder).

In fact, I'd love to see Jerry "Tinky Winky" Falwell find something evil in the lyrics of "Flicker Of Faith": "Live life, never ending journey / Now take one day at a time / Your faith should be forever burning / When your soul is on the line". Then again, Falwell could find something Satanic in a dial tone, so I guess I should realize what we're dealing with here. Lyrically, Obscure Master Plan is not the brightest picture ever painted, but it's one that should give the listener reason to ponder if they take the time.

The unfortunate thing is that Devita's vocals go south (or, in this case, north) too many times, and I found myself distracted by this. Had just a little more attention been spent on the vocals to keep them on-key, this album would have been excellent. Instead, Obscure Master Plan shows a band that is a work in progress - albeit one whose progress I'm interested in following.

Rating: B-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.