Nevermore: The Obsidian Conspiracy
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In life, there are few things you can reliably count on. So it is welcome when you find those things. For example, you can bet on the sun rising in the east in the morning. Chances are pretty good that in the Northern Hemisphere, July will be warmer than January. If you throw something up in the air, it will most likely fall to the ground at some point. You can count on these things.
Guess what else you can count on. Nevermore releasing killer music.
There is history. In the almost 20 years since the band formed in 1991, they have released (prior to their most recent) 6 studio albums, one EP and one live release. Every one of those albums is good. Some are better than others, but they all are impressive releases. Not a single throw out in the bunch.
The Obsidian Conspiracy stands toe to toe with all of them.
Not that there was every any question, with with his 2008 release Zero Order Phase, Jeff Loomis quietly and with impeccable class asserted his position amongst metal's great guitarists. And he is back in top form on The Obsidian Conspiracy. His guitar work dominates any album he plays on, and this is no different. His lightning fast riffs kick off the album with "The Termination Proclamation", and the onslaught never lets up from there.
However, while certainly a metal guitarist, he isn't one dimensional. He proves again on tracks such as "The Blue Marble and the New Soul" that he is very capable of emoting with his playing as well. He can also slow the barrage down to a plodding, down-tuned dirge. He exercises all of these techniques on The Obsidian Conspiracy.
He isn't the only star of the show here. Again, Van Williams is brilliant on the drums, playing impossibly fast and precise throughout. Jim Sheppard continues to be the perfect bass foil to Loomis' lead guitar licks. Together, they create a finely tuned machine of rhythm.
But no review of Nevermore is complete without some discussion of Warrel Dane. Honestly, it was his impressive vocal ability that first turned me on to these guys. He has an incredible range, though doesn't use this as much as he used to. However, he certainly still can as evidenced on the live album Year of the Voyager. Nevertheless, he still is one of metal's standout vocalists. With a powerful voice that can quickly switch back and forth between menacing, melancholy, hopeful and haunting. He uses all to fantastic effect on this release.
Final Verdict: Adore it
Not their best release ever (I honestly don't know which album I would give that to), but an incredibly solid release that stands tall amongst their oeuvre. There is plenty to like here. I have to give special mention to the track "And the Maiden Spoke". It starts off slow with some interesting guitar effects, then quickly unleashes an absolute sonic assault in both intensity and technicality. It is a fantastic song, in that "synapse fracturing" sort of way that causes your head to involuntarily crank to the side and wonder what just happened. It might be my favorite Nevermore song. Period.