Four years in the making, "Oblivion" is an unapologetic, full-throttle rock record packed with great songs and commanding performances. Released at a time when many rock acts have either softened considerably or abandoned the genre altogether, "Oblivion" stays true-to-form throughout, dismissing current trends, looking instead to the great rock bands of the 70s, 80s, and 90s for inspiration.
Writing for this record began shortly after the completion of the band’s 2012 concept album, "Golden State." Seeking an assemblage of compelling stand-alone songs untethered to an overarching theme, bassist/vocalist Dave Tomkins introduced one straight-ahead rocker (“When the Sun Appears”), two mini epics (“Byzantium” and “Rivers”), and one oddity in 6/4 (“So Dark”) to band mates Reza Moosavi (guitar) and Kurt Berens (drums) in Spring 2013. The trio developed innumerable arrangements of each song and, while simultaneously performing live in support of "Golden State," noted the opportunities this new material presented for a bigger vocal presence within the band—one that would undoubtedly have a positive impact on live presentations of the band’s established material as well. And so began the long search for a new lead vocalist that—after a few false starts—finally culminated in the discovery of Nohl Takahashi (formerly of Daijobu) in the Summer of 2015.
With Takahashi fully integrated into the band, writing on what would become "Oblivion" continued throughout 2015 and into 2016. During this period, “So Dark” became “Starless Skies,” and “Rivers” (with new lyrics by Takahashi) became “Stand Down.” Takahashi also added lyrics to another Tomkins song, “Minutiae,” as well as to Moosavi compositions “Headstrong” and “Dead Walking.” A final flurry of writing came from Tomkins in the form of “Phantom Satellite,” “Brutal Muse,” and “The Passenger,” with Takahashi adding additional lyrics to each. All ten songs endured a vigorous arrangement process whereby Takahashi and Tomkins worked out vocal harmonies, and all four musicians had the opportunity to create unique parts and to experiment with a variety of sounds and approaches, culminating in the full band arrangements one hears on the finished record.
When the time came to record, the band once again returned to Kingsize Soundlabs to take advantage of the studio’s unique mixture of vintage and state-of-the-art recording equipment, and to work with Brian Rosemeyer, who had engineered and mixed "Golden State." As was the case previously, the band recorded instrumentals primarily live with just a handful of overdubs. Vocal recording and mixing took place separately in producer Rob Schnapf’s adjacent “Mant” studio, with mastering duties being undertaken once again by Mark Chalecki at Little Red Book Mastering.
The album’s cover art, created by filmmaker Patrick Lawler, pairs with the album’s title, "Oblivion", in thought-provoking ways. The term “oblivion” can refer to forgetfulness on the one hand, or to having been forgotten on the other—to a state of unconsciousness, or to a condition of alienation or extinction. Does the figure on the album’s cover—perhaps unconsciously, in a daydream—long to scale the hillside at which he stares (to achieve a goal, or to regain something lost), or does he look back at a peak just descended (symbolizing something rejected or dismissed)? Has he been cast out of a civilization (perhaps the one responsible for the luminous glow emerging beyond the hill’s precipice), or does he look on with dread at a lingering past he wishes to escape? Such existential questions inform many of the album’s lyrics, inviting listeners to see reflections of their own experiences, and suitably to draw their own conclusions.
Equal parts cerebral and visceral, the Shadow Principle’s "Oblivion" holds much in store for fans of bands ranging from Led Zeppelin and The Who to Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, and the Mars Volta.
released July 15, 2016
The Shadow Principle / Oblivion
Release Date: July 15, 2016
Produced & Arranged by The Shadow Principle
Engineered and Mixed by Brian Rosemeyer
at Kingsize Soundlabs, Los Angeles
Mastered by Mark Chalecki
at Little Red Book Mastering, Los Angeles
The Shadow Principle:
Kurt Berens: Drums
Reza Moosavi: Guitar
Nohl Takahashi: Vocals
Dave Tomkins: Bass/Vocals