Simone Mularoni has returned with yet another new project in SWEET OBLIVION featuring Geoff Tate (ex-QUEENSRYCHE, OPERATION MINDCRIME). This guy seems to be everywhere these days; he’s played in recent releases of ANCIENT BARDS, LIONE/CONTI, and his own prog band, DGM, he’s lent session support to countless other projects including ELVENKING and HELL IN THE CLUB, and he’s also been busy taking care of the mixing and mastering for some new releases, such as the upcoming MOONLIGHT HAZE album. Of course, his involvement in numerous projects doesn’t mean anything on its own, but when his involvement is in so many excellent bands, that definitely means something.
So, it’s needless to say that I was fairly excited to hear what his latest brainchild, SWEET OBLIVION, would have to offer. After all, as a fan of most everything Mularoni’s done, I know that he is a very capable and accomplished musician. And, along with fellow-DGM member Emanuele Casali on keys and session drummer Paolo Caridi, I thought that the talent pool would be deep enough to pull something great out of.
But, as if carrying on some sort of curse that started in the mid-00s, letting Geoff Tate anywhere near this project has made it suffer nearly to the point of no redemption. Rather than paying homage to the golden years of QUEENSRYCHE, as Mularoni hoped to accomplish with SWEET OBLIVION, the product has instead tread more closely to the doomed footprints of “Operation: Mindcrime”. Almost the entire record comes off as uninspired, monotonous, and ultimately a chore to listen to all at once. It has a couple minor moments of hope, but most are found so late in the album that it’s already a lost cause by the time they arrive.
If there’s one thing that’s good in the album, it’s the guitarwork. Though few and far between, there are some great riffs to be found, especially in ‘Behind Your Eyes’, ‘The Deceiver’, and the intro of ‘True Colors’. Additionally, both the background parts and solos in most of the songs are well done, so that’s a bonus. The rest of the performances are less-than-memorable. The drums and melodies are simplistic and, like many of the tracks themselves (‘Hide Away’, ‘My Last Story’, ‘Sweet Oblivion’), ultimately forgettable. I’m not a huge fan of Tate’s voice, but that’s more a personal issue of preference than an issue with his performance, which is about what you’d expect.
This album is decent, but that’s as far as it gets. The best part of the album isn’t found until ‘The Deceiver’, which is the second-to-last track, in which there’s actually a sense of excitement, which leaves me wondering: where in the fuck was this energy in the rest of the album? While the tempo is partially responsible for this boost, I’m more talking about the fact that this song seems to have had more work put into it than all of the others combined, except maybe ‘True Colors’. It’s dynamic, interesting, and has something new to offer.
When all things are considered, SWEET OBLIVION’s debut is pretty disappointing. Despite all of the tools being present for a great album, it doesn’t quite make the cut that it strove for. With a little less desire to keep it QUEENSRYCHE-y and a little more drive to make something special, the band could surely come up with something noteworthy. But, until then, I’m gonna leave this album in my past, where it belongs.