Another slice of brilliance

Nevermore’s previous album This Godless Endeavor was a rare breed – a modern masterpiece which lived up to its masterclass billing while lapping the competition for album of the year in 2005.

Needless to say, material worthy of a follow-up likely wasn’t easy to come by. However, while it’s taken five years, The Obsidian Conspiracy is upon us and the long and short of it is that it’s another slice of brilliance from the Seattle crew.

More immediate and less progressive than recent Nevermore releases, every song on this record packs at least one great hook somewhere – some take longer than others to uncover, but they are definitely present. This dedication to making ten songs that are all memorable in their own right would alone mark this album as a must hear, but there is plenty else to sink your proverbial teeth into. The songs are more accessible overall, but retain Dane’s inherent ability to lend an even greater sense of drama to anything he wraps his vocal chords around, punctuated by Loomis indulging in less outright fretboard wizardry and instead mining his range for more emotive, thoughtful leads; (the piano-infused ‘The Blue Marble and the New Soul’ and ‘Your Poison Throne’ being two of the better example) lending it a distinguishable edge. His crunchy riffage is still out in force and Van Williams’ punchy double-bass is also instantly recognizable. Dane’s distinctive wail is ideally matched by his off-kilter, paranoid lyrical outlook. ‘And the Maiden Spoke’ is arguably the standout whereby all the aformentioned elements combine, built around an enormous, venue-leveling chorus but counterpointed by the contrast of its haunting feel with crushing heaviness.

There’s plenty of the variety fans have come to demand from a Nevermore record, but the songs are of such high standard they over-ride any accusations of adhering to a formula. ‘She Comes In Colors’ is an eerie, yet dynamic ballad injecting tasteful acoustic flourishes, opener ‘The Termination Proclamation’ comes charging out of the gate with a riff straight out of 2000’s Dead Heart in a Dead World coupled with a soaring chorus, ‘Blue Marble…’ harks back to the brooding introspection of 1999’s Dreaming Neon Black, while ‘Moonrise’ and the title track ensure their thrash roots aren’t completely forgotten. ‘Emptiness Unobstructed’ also boasts a great chorus melody – one of the band’s best in eons, which is no small praise.

The special edition, which this reviewer wasn’t privy to also includes covers of The Doors and The Tea Party, but The Obsidian Conspiracy is a great album whose only real failing is that it isn’t This Godless Endeavor. Irrespective of that belief, this is still the sound of a self-assured, confident band in full flight.

1. The Termination Proclamation
2. Your Poison Throne
3. Moonrise (Through Mirrors of Death)
4. And the Maiden Spoke
5. Emptiness Unobstructed
6. The Blue Marble and the New Soul
7. Without Morals
8. The Day You Built the Wall
9. She Comes in Colors
10. The Obsidian Conspiracy