Canobliss is, quite possibly, the hardest working independent, unsigned hard rock/metal band in Southern California. Their DIY work ethic propels both their music and their performance, without the gnarly infection of managers, producers, or record company ilk. If anything, Canobliss has some formidable cojones to buck the system. Youngsters take note. Returning with Man Is The Enemy, a totally self-produced project from first to last, Canobliss returns to their consistent modern music play without bowing down to the nuances of current trends. Or maybe not?
One of the things that attracted me to Canobliss on 2008's Psychothermia was their ability to bring their own personal invention to modern hard rock and metal. Much of this remains, yet this time I hear a slight degree of capitulation to commercialism. You can hear this on the Man Is The Enemy, Hit the Floor, and Black Cadillac, by example; fortunately, Canobliss does this with exceptional skill. For instance, Man Is The Enemy has such ambitious melody and vocal arrangements to be both unique and radio-friendly in a breath.
If I'm beginning to sound conflicted here, pardon me. I'm a listener first, and then a music critic. Derrama Tu Sangre blends the clean vocals with harsh vocals (but still understandable) in tandem with some near hardcore thrash to sound like typical modern metal. It's saved by some savvy ethnic guitar a two-thirds through. A good song, but you can tell I wasn't overly impressed. But then, on a song like Comatose, Canobliss returns to that modern melodic hard rock that intrigued me two years ago. And vocalist Johan Maldanado is postively magnificent. So it goes. From here to the end, I'm not sure what my impressions are. Things run together, but this was a characteristic of Psychothermia. Tools of the Trade is worthy. The final track Earth A.D.D may be my favorite as it reminds me of classic heavy metal with an edgier presence. Despite my initial, and maybe ongoing reservations, Man Is The Enemy is pure Canobliss: independent, ambitious, gritty, and entertaining. What more could you ask from today's modern rock? I dig it (again), and very recommended!
Some afterthoughts: lyrically, Man Is The Enemy touches on some personal (meaning the band) and sociopolitical themes. Honestly, except for Earth A.D.D., those themes are a bit vague. Again, the album work is awesome, reminding of early eighties thrash metal covers. And finally, just another kudo to Johan Maldanado who could just be one of the best unknown hard rock/metal vocalist in America. Canobliss should keep in eye on him lest some band swoop down and pick him up.