The Obsidian Conspiracy
5/3/2010 - Review by: Hail and Kill
Sparing you, dear reader, the ecstatic fervor triggered by this much anticipated album from Century Media, let it be known that while "The Obsidian Conspiracy" has been slobbered over by most for the better part of five years, it's best to kill your expectations right now.
This is what it's not: A cataclysmic release of messianic proportions fated to RULE all metaldom.
This is what it is: A consistent, face melting collection of brand new Nevermore songs.
Nevermore have eschewed subtlety when opening their albums for the past several years and on its opening salvo, "The Termination Proclamation" arrives in a blizzard of intricate, grooving riffs from Jeff Loomis before the hammer meets the anvil and Warrel Dane's eerie vocals are up to their usual mischief. The album's first track is a no nonsense barrage of vitriol worded in Nevermore's trademark cryptic style ("Those who cannot speak/assume their positions/and die...the army ants march you to your grave") that finishes with an abrupt solo by Loomis.
Next is perhaps one of the album's less sterling songs (compared to its stronger peers) "Your Poison Throne" that proves just as dynamic as its predecessor. Reeking of evil and scorn, it's yet another grand example of Nevermore's ever-impressive songwriting acumen, blessed as it is with a spine-tingling chorus. But chunkier fare eventually prevails on the rollicking "Moonrise (Through Mirrors of Death)" where the band blend muscle and melody in an effortless four minute barrage complete with an enormous chorus ("I Feel the Moonrise inside my head/I bear the consequences of everything I said"). Their chops ever-peerless and bulletproof, the Van Williams-Jim Sheppard rhythm section are particularly strong here.
Further grandeur awaits on "And The Maiden Spoke" as Nevermore shift to narrative mode, spinning an eerie supernatural tale set in the 17th century. At first impression the band might be taking the tempo slowly, but it's done for cinematic effect since there's enough oomph on this track to get the listener headbanging. "Emptiness Unobstructed" is a straightforward rocker that enjoys its fair share of Nevermore grandeur, from subtle verses to epic solos and a breathtaking chorus. The quartet go the slow route for the "The Blue Marble And The New Soul," whose beautiful lyrics unravel along to music so soft, so stark, it's cold. And glorious. Don't be surprised if you're moved to tears.
The band's faster tendencies are showcased at "Without Morals" until the brooding "The Day You Built The Wall" casts a long, dark shadow across the album's last stretch of wondrous music. "She Comes In Colors" is Nevermore in gentle mode—for a moment. The guys come out swinging halfway through and by the title track, Warrel Dane and co. are ripping it until he utters "These are my last words" to signal curtain fall. A rare meeting of perfect musicianship, songwriting finesse, and masterful production, "The Obsidian Conspiracy"'s sole purpose is adding luster to the Nevermore legacy.
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