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Return of the Oblique

Album Launch ‘Out Of Darkness’ 25th February 2023

When Oblique Visions returned to the stage during Rock City Metal City Festival in March 2022 it was apparent that this was the comeback every Maltese metalhead was waiting for. This return was capped by the release of the band’s second album on the 25th February at The Garage. Aptly titled ‘Out Of Darkness’ the album comes after a gap of 28 years since their debut full length album ‘Seas Of Serenity’ in 1995.

Since then the line-up changed numerous times, now, stabilized once Jeffrey Bugeja returned from living abroad for some years. He rejoined original members Brian 'Fusa' Sammut on bass and drummer Conrad ‘Twister’ Attard who kept the band going throughout these years. This line up was completed with the addition of Conrad Borg (ex-Martyrium and Sceptocrypt, amongst others) on singing duties and Italian born Frank Pizzo on guitar.

‘Out Of Darkness’ is the labor of this association plus the collaboration on three songs of yet another original member who, lives abroad and record as Tatius Wolff, which is the alternative metal solo project of Stephan 'Wolff' Borg inspired by Type O Negative, Tool, Deftones and Nine Inch Nails.

Back to the event at The Garage. The night was opened by Hemplifier with one of the heaviest, sludge sound we have had in recent years. The band consists of seasoned musicians Dino Mifsud Lepre (Victims Of Creation and numerous other bands, too many to mention) on drums, Justin 'Bazaz' Borg on bass (who apart from Lady Lizard is also a member of a large number of bands) and Emanuel Portelli on guitar and vocals. From the three members Emanuel probably plays with the same number of bands Dino’s and Bazaz’s bands added together, having recently joined Tryst Arcane and Pilgrimage. But back to Hemplifier, formed officially in 2020 (the band has been jamming for some years prior), released their debut single ‘Weedcraft’ on 17th November 2021 and are on the verge of releasing their debut album, from which most of their setlist for the night was taken from. This was the band’s first gig for 2023.

Coincidentally Dino Mifsud Lepre was in Victims Of Creation when they supported Oblique Visions back on the day when ‘Seas Of Serenity’ was released in 1995.

After the heavy slow set from Hemplifier and a few minutes change-over, Oblique Visions took the stage and with the first few notes the audience knew that this was to be a continuation of preeminence and a glimpse of the magnitude the album is. The band opened with the title track, ‘Out Of Darkness’ and continued with yet another album track ‘Tears Of A Sad Man, before playing the band’s trademark ‘ Oblique Visions’ from ‘Fallen’, the demo the band released in 1994 to the delight of the die-hard fans that returned to see the band after many years of wait.

The next two songs (‘XIII’ and ‘Back To Earth’) were again taken from the band’s latest opus before revealing their first surprise guest for the night. The band this time visited the ‘Seas Of Serenity’ with ‘Seasons’ to which Viper Soup Complex singer Annmarie Spiteri joined Conrad for a superb duet. Lights were dimmed for the next song while the band left the stage only to leave Frank and Annmarie who were joined by Jenny Wheeler on cello to perform ‘Crepuscolo’ a relatively quite piece of music Frank wrote to his wife and performed originally on their wedding day.

This was followed by three songs from their 1995 debut album, ‘Deranged’, ‘Destroying Angels’ and ‘Dethroned’, much to the delight of the band’s seasoned fans and new ones. Unfortunately, during ‘Dethroned’ Frank’s guitar decided to play up but the band played the song again as an encore, just after the last song from the new album for the night ‘The Loss’

Comments congratulating both bands for their show stated to pop on social media pages especially on the event page from attendees and other musicians present on the night. Proficient singer Leo Stivala (Forsaken) posted, “I always liked this band and yesterday they did not disappoint. They give Doom Death a different (I dare say progressive) touch with up-tempo and some really interesting breaks. Veru well done guys”

Indeed, although the new tracks that form this album are a trip to the old school stuff Oblique Visions were known for in the 90’s, they feature a progressive sound probably, thanks mainly to the guitar riffs of Frank Pizzo, who during a recent interview he admitted that his first love was progressive metal. Frank collaborated on three other songs on the album apart from ‘Crepuscolo’, namely ‘The Loss’, ‘XIII’ and ‘Out Of Darkness’. Brian 'Fusa' Sammut cooperated on all songs except ‘Crepuscolo’. Other credits go to Jeffrey Bugeja (‘Back to Earth’, ‘Husk’ and the title track) and Conrad Borg for ‘Tears Of A Sad Man’.

Next stop announced for Hemplifier is in Tolmin, Slovenia at the Tolminator festival in July, whilst Oblique Visions are working on some local dates, so best keep a look out for any news!

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