Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nevermore - The Obsidian Conspiracy (2010)


Seattle, Washington, has always been known as a hotbed for all things rock. From grunge to indie, the rainy northwest is home to the hard and the heavy. But none are more unique than progressive metallers Nevermore. For the better part of two decades, they have carved out a niche, taking everything we know about thrash, and turning it upside down.

A winding guitar played atop a labyrinth of crushing drums kicks things off. "The Termination Proclamation" is a statement of intent. Guitarist Jeff Loomis ties you in knots, while Warrel Dane punishes you with his own signature vocal style. Tempos shift from the high speed chase to the headbanging mid range, accompanied all the way with double kicks and blast beats from hell. The finger and foot tapping assault of "Your Poison Thrown" is a surefire crowd pleaser. Loomis steps back, allowing the charismatic Dane to lead the charge, asking "what do you want from humanity?" The whine of a solo brings the song full circle.

The bruising continues into "Moonrise (Through Mirrors Of Death)," a double kick packed rollercoaster ride. The oft forgotten rhythm section batters the listener into a state of shock, from one staggering roll to the next. The syncopated beats of "And The Maiden Spoke" may catch you off guard, especially when delivered alongside the ominous spoken word. Dane is at his melodic best, with vocal melodies that simply cannot be duplicated. A light guitar in the chorus merely serves to harmonize, before coming back to life.

The band dial things back slightly, offering a song that begins as a standard rock song. "Emptiness Unobstructed" is a rhetorical question of life's purpose, leaving Dane searching for the answers. Verse crashes into chorus, which comes to a chugging halt, tagging the verse back in. Fear not, the mighty Loomis gets his lick in at the end, delivering a blazing solo over a chorus of toms. A dark ballad follows, in the form of "The Blue Marble And The New Soul". They slow to a crawl, delivering a lyrically powerful lesson. The poignant "Without Morals" follows, revving the engine back to speed, preparing for the home stretch with Warrel Dane's voice taking the fore.
Bass and drums unite to form the backbone of "The Day You Built The Wall," which provides the stomp of the album, without losing the lyrical power. Diverse vocal delivery, from melodic crooning to the low growls,  helps to drive things home. Even at the slower pace, Loomis still dishes out a well crafted solo, choosing to work with the flow of the song, as opposed to against it. The acoustic tinged and sexually charged  "She Comes In Colors" starts out like a lamb, but quickly changes over to a beast, with high speed riffs rolling over heavy snare work. The title track serves to end things where they began, melting faces with solo after solo. The onslaught will leave you battered, beaten and ready for more neck breaking drum work. The unit play off of one another, building to a dramatic conclusion.

Originality becomes harder and harder to come by, with each new band simply ripping off those who came before, in some twisted homage to their heroes. Yet, somehow, Nevermore's sound has gone untouched by outsiders. It seems far fetched to think that no one has tried to steal any aspect of their style. It is more likely that many have tried, and failed, to replicate it. Bravo, Nevermore.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff Loomis is probably one of the greatest modern guitarists around. Unfortunately, shit went down and now Nevermore kind of split up. Good news is Loomis is doing another solo album. His last one has some of my favorite instrumental songs. Never cared for the singer. He kinda blew, I thought.