June 6, 2010

Album Review: "The Obsidian Conspiracy" by Nevermore

Nevermore is one of those rare bands with an unbeatable track record; the kind of band that somehow always manages to impress fans with each new release. Over the course of their sixteen-year career, the Seattle natives have defied every standard and bucked every trend in the metal world, while still maintaining an enormous following and garnering rave reviews. In the five years since their last studio album, This Godless Endeavor, Nevermore has released their first DVD, The Year of the Voyager, and also seen solo releases from lead singer Warrel Dane (Praises to the War Machine) and lead guitarist Jeff Loomis (Zero Order Phase). With anticipation and expectations running high, the band is finally back with The Obsidian Conspiracy, an album that displays the full spectrum of Nevermore's capabilities to great effect.

Vocal performance is extremely prominent on The Obsidian Conspiracy, with Dane at the top of his game throughout the album. His massive range is used to its fullest extent, displaying incredible highs on the title track and dizzying lows on "The Day You Built the Wall". Of higher notice, though, are the subtle techniques Dane uses to enhance his delivery. The slight rasp in his voice on "Without Morals" greatly intensifies the anger in his lyrics. Similarly, small tremors placed on key words in "Moonrise (Through Mirrors of Death)" truly convey the sorrow and regret of the song. These tiny adjustments are what help Dane transcend from being a solid lead singer into being one of the best in the world, and they also make his style truly unique in the metal world.

Of course, Nevermore would not be as popular or well-received as they are without the extraordinary talents of Jeff Loomis. His compositions for this album are outstanding, spanning the length and breadth of the band's influences, as well as using styles from bands that Nevermore have themselves influenced. The title track has a strong thrash presence and riff structure that would fit perfectly in Arch Enemy's discography, aside from Dane's clean singing. "Your Poison Throne" maintains an excellent power-prog style akin to Kamelot, and opening track "The Termination Proclamation" is a wonderful groove metal song, with a rapidly ascending chord structure in the main riff that would make Dimebag Darrell proud. "And the Maiden Spoke" is the highlight of the album, drawing elements from progressive and neo-classical metal, but with a highly technical structure similar to Dream Theater.

With such a diverse sounding album, it's hard to deny that Nevermore has nearly universal appeal. Few bands have such talented musicians in their ranks, and The Obsidian Conspiracy sees their talents used simultaneously to create a titanic musical force. It may bear some similarities to the band's older material, but this is truly a unique and special album from a veteran band. The Obsidian Conspiracy shows maturity and willingness to experiment, both within and outside their established style, and it also displays their firm grasp of their musical identity. These qualities are why Nevermore have remained so popular, and with this album, their popularity will definitely continue for a long time to come.

Score: 8 out of 10

Track Listing

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

Album Personnel

Warrel Dane - Vocals
Jeff Loomis - Guitar
Jim Sheppard - Bass guitar
Van Williams - Drums

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