The Obsidian Conspiracy
Nevermore is a band that I've never really taken the time to delve into. I have owned This Godless Endeavor for a while, but never given it a determined listen. In a recent attempt of mine to include some more varied metal in my listening diet (other than my power metal addiction), I decided to break in my copy of The Obsidian Conspiracy by listening to it the same way my compatriot does: with lyric booklet in hand, immersing myself fully in the art of the album both visually and sonically. The experience was a fantastic one, and I don't get to do this nearly as often as I should. In the case of Nevermore's latest release, it meant a very dark and heavy evening for me, which was precisely what I had been wanting.
So many people are well-acquainted with Nevermore that I think it would be highly redundant of me to describe most of the group's basic stylings. Personally, I was immediately drawn to the solid mass of guitar work that snarls and growls its way around the rest of the musical elements. It was a bit more technical than I was expecting, and quite heavy and satisfying. After listening to The Obsidian Conspiracy, I am absolutely convinced that Jeff Loomis is indeed an artist when it comes to dark and sinuous rhythm guitar lines. He's no slouch on solos either, as a great number of the breaks will attest.
Just being involved with a lot of metal fans and communities, I've heard a lot of garbage thrown at Nevermore, with the target often specifically being Warrel Dane. I can understand how some people may not care for him, but he's a talented vocalist, and most of the mindless Dane-bashing is unfounded and stupid. For the dark, sometimes hopeless music that appears on this album, his voice is really quite ideal. From a low, raspy baritone to a smooth tenor, Warrel's performance here is admirable and excellent. I especially like his octave harmonization on tracks like “Without Morals”, which has one of the catchiest choruses on the album. In terms of sheer aggressiveness, the title track and “Termination Proclamation” are also superb.
Looking over the art pamphlet and digesting this rather black, angry morsel, I was struck by some of the imagery and similarities. The image that particularly sticks in my head is that of a large bird in flight, dropping human bones over a bleak landscape. This definitely isn't a happy slab of metal, but it's actually one that I could see myself listening to fairly often (at least my favorite tracks). While I enjoy the songs listed above along with “Moonrise” and “And the Maiden Spoke” especially, I do not care for the slower tunes that Nevermore presents. Emotionally, I don't get near the same feeling of desperation or disquiet that most of the harder and faster tracks supply, and they certainly are nowhere near as interesting musically. Not bad songs, but they don't appeal to me directly.
Though this has already grown on me considerably since I first popped it in, it doesn't quite have the same sort of melodic memorability that some other artists do. Nonetheless, The Obsidian Conspiracy will definitely stay in my collection and be revisited not infrequently. This is a welcome change of pace from my normal tastes, and in general a fine, dark piece of American metal.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 7.25 out of 10