Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Nevermore: The Obsidian Conspiracy (2010) Review

Three highly-anticipated metal albums come out in the U.S. today. Let's see if I can review all three of them in three days.

Nevermore's The Obsidian Conspiracy is my own personal most-anticipated new album of the year. It came out today in the U.S. after being out for more than a week internationally.

As with any Nevermore album, the stars of the show are the amazing riffs of Jeff Loomis and the great vocal work of Warrel Dane.

Even at 41, Dane's distinct, emotional, 5+ octave voice is still strong, and he's still fully able to blend snarling, singing, and screaming in a way unmatched by anyone else.

You're not going to find them exploring much new territory, though there is some (see "The Blue Marble and the New Soul"). The focus seems to be a lot stronger on the vocals. Though the guitar is still Loomis's signature technical thrash and raunchy tone, it's slowed down a little to make room for Dane to explore his range. The band really shines best when they manage to fully showcase both talents, like on "She Comes in Colors" or the amazing title track.

The album isn't quite as aggressive as the Nevermore we're used to, but it's not soft either. Instead, it's darker and more emotional, likely due to the increased vocal focus. However, a problem Nevermore sometimes has is repeating the same thing once or twice too often (because Dane delivers the same lines in the same style each time), making some of the songs seem to drag on a bit; the problem is more prevalent on this one than on previous releases.

"Without Morals" is a perfect example of the overall tone of the album:

The Verdict: It may be less aggressive, but it's no less angry. It's a more dangerous kind of angry than ever before, not releasing the anger but ruminating, waiting to boil over. And boil over it does, in the end, so as an album it flows extremely well. It has all the elements which make Nevermore one of the greatest and most consistent metal bands of all time, including memorable songwriting. On the other hand, Loomis is far under-utilized on the album, and a few tracks seem to drag on a bit. Perhaps I'm being hard on them because I expected so much better, but I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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