Obsession
Classic metal band formed in 1983 in New Haven, CT, USA. Obsession features Mike Vescera, who would later sing for Loudness and Yngwie J. Malmsteen, among others.

Obsession - Marshall Law (Metal Blade) 1984

1. "Only The Strong Will Survive" (3:22)
2. "Hatred Unto Death" (06:55)
3. "Execution" (4:52)
4. "Marshall Law" (4:19)

This EP is hailed by many metalheads as an underground, cult classic. This EP is only four songs but each and every song is solid heavy metal. The first two songs are high calibur Judas Priest inspired heavy metal. These songs give a good taste of what the band would sound like on future releases. "Execution" doesn't stray far from the formula of the first two, but is peppered with guitar solos throughout. While singer Mike Vascera gets most of the recognition because of his work with Loudness and Yngwie, the talent behind this band is lead guitarist Bruce Vitale. He just tears it up! The title track is without a doubt the real gem here. It is a fine metal anthem with a wonderful simplicity to it's delivery, with a catchy chorus and an over-the-top delivery that you can feel from this young, hungry band. It would have been cool if Metal Blade had added "Shadows of Steel" from Metal Massacre II as a bonus track to this CD release.

Scarred for Life \
Obsession - Scarred for Life
(Metal Mayhem) 1986

1. Intro / Scarred for Life (4:54)
2. Winner Take All (4:16)
3. Losing My Mind (3:58)
4. In the End (4:43)
5. Bang 'em Til They Bleed (4:55)
6. My Lai 31568 / Take No Prisoners (5:40)
7. Taking Your Chances (4:15)
8. Run into the Night (3:09)
9. Tomorrow Hides No Lies (6:24)
BONUS TRACKS
10. Shadows of Steel [demo] (4:00)
11. Evil in Her Eyes [demo] (5:20)

"Scarred for Life" is one of the underground cult favorites. Metal purists tend to tout this under appreciated band, and I don't really disagree with them. Obsession play a mix of straightforward 1980's heavy metal metal, combining that macho-man metal attitude with plenty of melody and soaring vocals from Mike Vescera. His shrieky vocals really help to define this band. For the most part the band chooses power and attitude over speed. "Bang Them 'til They Bleed" is the exception as it is a speed metal track, and one of the standouts on the album. The song features a catchy, shout-along chorus and a fast lead break complete with a Thin Lizzy inspired dual lead by guitarists Art Maco and Bruce Vitale. "Winner Take All" and "Take No Prisoners" bleed pure heavy metal attitude. Comparisons can be made to Malice, Omen, Vicious Rumors, Sacred Warrior, Lizzy Borden, etc. As with most 80's metal bands, there is the obligatory ballad "Tomorrow Hides No Lies". The song isn't your typical sappy radio ballad though. It's actually a fairly heavy song, despite being obviously slower and mellower. "Scarred for Life" was a solid follow-up to the band's classic EP. The production is improved and the songwriting continues to progress.

The Metal Mayhem CD reissue features two songs that I don't remember being on the original vinyl version. "Shadows of Steel" is another full throttle speed metal track. This is early American power metal for sure. "Evil in Her Eyes" is a more mid-paced, but equally vicious metal track. I believe both songs were taken from the band's 1983 demo. As such, the production on these two tracks aren't quite up to par with the rest of the songs, but aren't terrible either.

Tales from the Thousand Lakes Obsession - Methods of Madness (Metal Mayhem) 1987

1. "Four Play/Hard to the Core" (4:55)
2. "High Treason" (2:57)
3. "For the Love of Money" (5:11)
4. "Killer Elite" (4:04)
5. "Desperate to Survive" (5:56)
6. "Methods of Madness" (3:28)
7. "Too Wild to Tame" (4:45)
8. "Always on the Run" (3:30)
9. "Panic in the Streets" (5:14)
BONUS TRACKS
10. "Missing You" (4:20)
11. "Waiting For Your Call" (4:52)

Obsession play heavy metal in it's truest sense with a big nod to Judas Priest. After a short intro titled "Four Play" the band bursts into a speedy metal number titled "Hard to the Core" and you realize immediately that these guys are delivering the goods! (Yes, the Priest reference was intentional.) The majority of this CD is solid 80's style speed metal. The guitar solos are simply amazing. A couple times I wondered to myself if Yngwie Malmesteen or Uli Roth were part of this band. "For the Love of Money" was the song that Obsession released as a single and recorded a video for. This song is a more obvious attempt at commercial metal and is in stark contrast to the opening two tracks. In like manner, "Too Wild to Tame" is a bit more commercial than heavier tracks like "Killer Elite" and the title track. However, even these more mid-paced rockers are good songs with outstanding vocals and nice lead breaks. "Desperate to Survive" is the ballad here. I think it was required of every metal band to do a ballad in the 80's. Regardless, this is actually a very good song. Vescera gives one of the vocal performances of his life here. The song also features another excellent lead break.

"Method to Madness" was originally released on Enigma records in 1987. Fortunately in 2000, Matal Mayhem Records re-released this CD with a couple of bonus tracks. "Missing You" is a commercial metal song that is actually quite good. If this song had been recorded by Dokken or Ratt in their hayday it probably would have been a big radio hit. "Waiting for Your Call" is a power ballad. Personally I felt this was not the best way to end an othewise heavy album. It would have been better, in my opinion, to finish off the CD with the heavier of the two bonus tracks, "Missing You".

Carnival of Lies Obsession - Carnival Of Lies (Mausoleum) 2006/2008

1. Smoking Gun (3:20)
2. Carnival Of Lies (4:16)
3. In For The Kill (4:24)
4. Playing Dead (4:33)
5. Imagining (4:12)
6. The Offering (4:33)
7. Pure Evil (3:34)
8. I Don't Belong (3:34)
9. Written In Blood (4:20)
10. Guilty As Charged (5:14)
11. Marshall Law (3:51)
12. Panic in the Streets (4:54)
13. Judas (3:57)

Obsession was one of many classic underground 1980's heavy metal bands. They releasing two albums and an EP of Judas Priest-inspired classic heavy metal. They were also part of one of the famous Metal Massacre compilations and in turn developed a cult following. Vocalist Mike Vescera went on to sing for Yngwie Malmsteen, Roland Grapow and Loudness, as well as having a solo career in more recent years. Much like Lizzy Borden, Omen and Liege Lord, Obsession played fast and furious metal melodies with charismatic, animated vocals never really descending into pop metal. The band dissolved in the late eighties but in 2003 Vescera and original drummer Jay Mezias recruited an all-new lineup and in turn recorded a new CD.

"Carnival Of Lies" was produced and engineered by vocalist Mike Vescera. As such, Vescera's vocals are front and center and only move aside when the guitars come screaming into play, which is quite often. While the production is more modern sounding and the band is mostly made up of new members, this CD sounds like it could have been the follow-up to "Method of Madness" that should have come out in 1988. The album features galloping riffs, fast and furious guitar solos, twin axe attacks, pounding drums and soaring vocals. "Carnival of Lies" is enough to please even the most "true" fan of classic heavy metal. Guitarist Joe Stump makes a guest appearance here playing solos on the new CD on tracks like "Playing Dead" the title track and the bonus track "Judas". Of course, Mike had sang with Stumps on his previous solo project. For the most part, the songs here sound like classic Obsession with little thought given to updating their sound. "Imagining" is really the only song that stuck out as sounding a bit different. This one track sort of has an Empire-era Queensryche vibe, while the follow-up track "The Offering" reminded me of classic Arch-era Fates Warning. The CD also includes a new versions of "Panic in the Streets" from "Method of Madness", "Marshall Law" from the band's classic EP and "In for the Kill" from their '83 demo. They didn't really change "Marshall Law" all that much, though the production is obviously much improved. I had not previously heard the demo, so I can't say much about "In for the Kill" other than it sounds like classic Obsession.

It might have taken them 20 years, but Obsession finally released their long-awaited follow-up to "Method of Madness". The new disc is a metal scorcher delivered with fist pumping, neck snapping metal power! "Carnival of Lies" was originally released with a different cover. Only Japanese versions had the updated version of "Panic in the Streets". The Mausoleum Records version features new cover art, all the songs from the Japanese pressing and the bonus song "Judas".

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