And the road goes on...
Genre: progressive metal/hard rock
Having released "Aurora Aborealis" in 2011, which I thought was a bit too minimaslitic in terms of everything but the lead guitar, Lars Eric Mattsson is now rereleasing 1998's "Obsession", which is a release that appeals much more to me - actually, its a very good album which definitely deserves some more exposure, so it's great that it gets rereleased.
Stylistically "Obsession" is perhaps best described as mildly progressive melodic metal with hard rock tendencies. Rather than just being a lead guitar and then something in the background, this album has much more of an actual band feel. The rhythm guitar is prominent and offers a lot of interesting riffs - some of which are more in the vein of hard rock and others are almost kind of power metallish, and - which is something I have a weakness for - there are even some galloping riffs every now and then. Featuring Björn Lodin's rough-edged voice, "Obsession" has a very 80s-90s hard rock edge to it, which I really like. It all comes together very well. Just check a track like 'Messenger' (which also features some Eastern elements) or the galloping prog power metal tracks 'Caught in Your Web' and 'Alive' or the highway-friendly 'Long Way Home'. 'Time and Again' has a nice funk rock feel to it, while a track like 'Sense and Obsession' is a heavy and melancholic ballad with a bluesy feel to it.
Now, Lars Eric Mattsson is of course quite the guitar guru, and, needless to say, this album is full of blazing, shredding and sweeping guitar solos with a neoclassical touch, many of which will leave many a guitar enthusiast drooling for more. But, and this is what I really like about it, his lead guitars never seem forced, and they fit neatly into the overall synergy of the album. In many ways, "Obsessions" reminds me of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, but with more of an edge to it (especially with the inclusion of keyboards and neoclassicisms). Coming from me, a fan of Rainbow and an admirer of Blackmore as a guitarist, this is meant as a huge compliment.
Remixed and remastered, the production is quite good. It still has that 80s-90s hard rock feel to it, but there is no noise and no fuzziness, and, overall, the sound is crisp and crystal clear.
Fans of melodic metal and hard rock with a progressive touch should hurry out and acquire "Obsessions", which is a massively melodic release documenting Mattsson's unique abilities as a guitarist and his solid songwriting skills. Guitar lovers everywhere, do yourselves a favor and check out this album.