Originally released in 1987 on the Enigma label – home of Stryper – Methods of Madness was US metal outfit Obsession’s second full-length release.
It more or less disappeared without trace a the time, an occurrence that’s hard to explain as, on re-inspection today, it’s a pretty good record indeed.
Helmed by the excellent voice of Mike Vescera, who went on to notoriety as the throat-for-hire on such records as Loudness’ Soldier of Fortune and Yngwie Malmsteen’s The Seventh Sign and Magnum Opus, Obsession created some pretty classic-sounding American metal, choc full of surgically precise guitar work, pounding drums and soaring, classy vocalising.
Judas Priest and Iron Maiden are clearly influences, but the band had a nice melodic edge to them that actually places them closer to their own countrymen like Icon, Leatherwolf and, less obviously, the afore-mentioned Stryper. Muscle and melody exist harmoniously on Methods of Madness.
Standout track Killer Elite is a superb, chugging piece of speed metal, featuring a commanding vocal from Vescera and tight guitar work from Bruce Vitale and Art Maco; The flip side of this controlled aggression reveals itself in the obligatory eighties metal ballad Desperate to Survive, which actually isn’t bad at all. Vescera hits all the right notes and there’s another excellent solo to enjoy in the great tradition of ‘emotional’ eighties shredding.
With the gift of hindsight some of the material such as For the Love of Money sounds a little ‘written for purpose’, with an eye to conforming to the mores of eighties metal success, but for all that – and let’s face it who on a decent label in the eighties didn’t have an eye for the mainstream? – this is an incredibly enjoyable release to listen to thirty years after the fact.
Methods of Madness is out now on Inner Wound Recordings.