Mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in December 2022.
American metal band Obsession formed in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1981, initially playing covers by the Tygers Of Pan Tang, Angel Witch, MSG, Accept as well as The Scorpions, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. It took the band two years to ink a deal with Metal Blade Records and come up with their debut 12” EP »Marshall Law«. The line-up on this legendary piece of US Metal vinyl (bearing the catalogue number MBR 1010) consisted of Matt Karagus (bass), Jay Mezias (drums), Art Maco (guitar), Bruce Vitale (guitar) and Mike Vescera (vocals).
»Marshall Law« was very well-received in the US (selling way over 15,000 copies). To promote the record, apart from playing extensively in the New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts area, Obsession toured quite a bit on the East Coast of the US, mainly the Northeast all the way down to North Carolina, before dedicating more time to the songwriting of their first full-length album.
Following »Marshall Law«, Obsession changed management and label. In the end Enigma Records released the band’s first full-length album »Scarred For Life« after a long delay in July 1986.
“After »Scarred For Life« came out, we began playing quite a few live shows and writing new material,” explains Obsession’s vocalist Mike Vescera. He continues: “By the time we were ready to go back in to record »Methods Of Madness«, we had really found our identity as a band. Once again, we had Brian Kane on board as co-producer and the recording studio was Audio West in West Haven, Connecticut. This studio became a second home to us. Bill Burke and Joe Mendyk were again the engineers.”
Comparing the band’s first two albums, Mike resumes: “I think »Methods Of Madness« was the better record. We were finding ourselves as musicians and understanding the recording process much better. Technically it was a better album as well.”
Stylistically, »Methods Of Madness« was once again a mixture of uncompromising uptempo songs like “Killer Elite” and “Panic In The Streets” and more melodic, commercial sounding tunes in the vein of “Too Wild To Tame” or “Desperate To Survive”. “I believe it is a mixture ob both styles,” agrees singer Mike Vescera, “we were really coming together as a band, really tight and understanding what each of us was capable of. We loved the heavier stuff, but also wanted to have songs that could cross over and bring us to a whole other level. We were huge fans of Judas Priest. All the dual harmony guitars etc. I think influences from Priest, Scorpions, Accept and Maiden all became part of the Obsession style. The »Methods Of Madness« album really put us on the ‘metal map’ and our popularity grew immensely from it. Music from »Methods Of Madness« was used in quite a few movies as well.”
The song “For The Love Of Money” was issued as a single and video, and this is how it all came about: “When the label needed a single to promote, everyone felt that ‘For The Love Of Money’ would be the best option. They needed something that could cross over to MTV(Headbanger’s Ball), and ‘Money’ was decided on. It did quite well for us and had some good amount of plays on MTV which did quite a bit for us in popularity. The video was filmed in NYC under the Brooklyn Bridge which was quite the experience!”
There were two bonus songs which didn’t make it onto the proper album: “Missing You” and the ballad “Waiting For Your Call”. With hindsight, was it the right decision to leave these two numbers off »Methods Of Madness«? “Yes, it was,” is Mike Vescera’s straight answer. “These two songs were recorded after »Methods Of Madness« as demos anyway. We were getting pressured to release a bit more commercial music. The music here in the States was leaning to more towards ‘pop’ metal, and this was our attempt at it.”
Once again there weren’t any line-up changes for »Methods Of Madness«, the chemistry and camaraderie within the band seemed to have been pretty good, which was indeed the case according to the singer: “Obsession was a really close group of guys. Not only were we a band, we also liked to hang out with each other. We were really more like a family at the time. We believed we would be together rocking forever.”
What changed, however, was the band’s dress code. Leather and studs made way for high hair and spandex – a sign of the times? “Yes, a sign of the times,”confirms Mike Vescera. “It was a bit crazy in those days with everyone (management, labels etc.) having an opinion on what the band should be (look like, sound like). We really preferred the heavier look, but things were moving in this direction, so unfortunately we were forced to go along.”
“Everything fell apart quite quickly after »Methods Of Madness«,” continues Mike. “A few personal issues within the band led to a huge falling out. In the end it was only Bruce Vitale and myself left in the band and trying to continue. We were also having issues with management, which didn't help matters. We were in discussions with Graham Bath and Steve Hopgood from Paul DiAnno’s Battle zone to become new members of Obsession. We had toured the USA/Canada with them, became quite good friends and felt they would be a great addition to the band. We already had a new bass player from NY named Scott Novello, great player. Unfortunately, this would never materialize. We did have a three album deal with Enigma, but with so much going on in our camp, things were getting a bit out of control. I’m not really sure what happened, to be honest. I just know that things were a mess. We did demo a bunch of new stuff, mostly on our own. I've tried to track some of it down, but nothing as of yet. It's difficult with all the different formats of recording etc. I was also starting to get offers from other popular bands throughout the world at the time, which made things even more complicated.”
In the end, Mike accepted one of these offers, which marked the end of Obsession (at least for the time being): “I had been getting a lot of interest from other bands, labels etc., quite a few offers. When Loudness contacted me, I was blown away that they were interested in me being their new lead singer. I had listened to Loudness for some years and been a huge fan. Obsession was pretty much finished by this time, so I agreed to meet with the guys in Tokyo and see how we got along. Everything went extremely well, and they asked me to join the Loudness camp!”