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Nevermore - "The Obsidian Conspiracy" (CD)

Nevermore - "The Obsidian Conspiracy" CD cover image

"The Obsidian Conspiracy" track listing:

1. The Termination Proclamation (3:12)
2. Your Poison Throne (3:54)
3. Moonrise (Through Mirrors of Death) (4:03)
4. And the Maiden Spoke (5:00)
5. Emptiness Unobstructed (4:39)
6. The Blue Marble and the New Soul (4:41)
7. Without Morals (4:19)
8. The Day You Built the Wall (4:23)
9. She Comes in Colors (5:34)
10. The Obsidian Conspiracy (5:16)

Reviewed by on July 18, 2010

"A tinge of sadness will be felt by fans that 'The Obsidian Conspiracy' is not on par with 'This Godless Endeavor,' but once that feeling subsides, the realization comes that the band’s seventh album is one of their stronger releases to date."

Nevermore reached the pinnacle of their career with 2005’s “This Godless Endeavor.” While “Dreaming Neon Black” holds a special place in the hearts of many, “This Godless Endeavor” was the band at their most technical and progressive. When a band releases one of the best albums of the past decade, having to follow-up it up can be a colossal challenge. Those expecting a direct sequel to “This Godless Endeavor” will be sorely disappointed by “The Obsidian Conspiracy.” The band took a step back, toning down the songwriting and keeping things direct and focused. There is still a slim layer of technical craft to the guitar work that will please fans, as well as a vicious streak that hearkens back to the under-appreciated “Enemies of Reality.”

What the album lacks in experimenting is made up for by some of the catchiest work in the band’s history. This album will stick with the listener after the first run-through. It’s impossible to not hum the chorus to “Emptiness Unobstructed” or tap a foot when the thought of the driving riff from opener “The Termination Proclamation” comes around. The band seems determined for these songs to leave an impression, a task that they complete with relative success.

The melodic and ruthless sides of Nevermore are in full swing on “The Obsidian Conspiracy.” The usual ballads include “The Blue Marble and the New Soul” and “She Comes In Colors,” where the former is a piano-driven gloom-fest and the latter is a haunting acoustic piece that evolves into a creepy, heavy riff progression. Both of them are great tracks, showcasing the emotional vocals of Warrel Dane and the low-key instrumental nature of the band. On the other side, the closing title track sounds like the distant cousin of “Seed Awakening,” with a wicked-fast beginning that never lets up.

A large portion of the album sticks to a mid-tempo pace that aims in a groovier direction. That’s not to say that the band goes all Pantera on us, but there is a rudimentary feel to tracks like “Moonrise (Through Mirrors of Death)” and “The Day You Built The Wall” that is definitely a far cry from what the band is usually capable of. These tracks are enjoyable on their own; however, their longevity lives or dies by one’s willingness to take the song at face value. With the technical edge scaled back, the songs are easier to digest.

Jeff Loomis is a freight-train on the guitar, putting together some fantastic compositions. The soaring guitar solo on “Your Poison Throne” is one of the top moments of the album. Still, nothing comes close to the work he did on “This Godless Endeavor.” The lack of the crazy shredding that was on “Final Product” and the title track is definitely noticeable. Loomis really controls his playing, making sure not to go too far over-the-top to compliment the change in songwriting. The rest of the band follows suit, with Van Williams keeping the double bass work under wraps for the majority of the album and Dane keeping the high-pitched shrieks far away.

A tinge of sadness will be felt by fans that “The Obsidian Conspiracy” is not on par with “This Godless Endeavor,” but once that feeling subsides, the realization comes that the band’s seventh album is one of their stronger releases to date. The whole album is consistent, with no lulls or drops in quality. For Nevermore to take a step back and not concern themselves with trying to top their last masterful album is admirable. There will be backlash and frustration from those who wanted a continuation of the last album. Nevermore confronts this with a nasty smile on their face and a batch of killer songs to show that they are far from predictable or a one-trick pony.

Highs: Melodic and ruthless side of the band in full force, Jeff Loomis is a riff machine, catchy tunes

Lows: Lacks the technical finesse of "This Godless Endeavor," fans may be disappointed at the simplier songwriting

Bottom line: It's tough to follow-up a modern-day classic, but Nevermore does an admirable job with “The Obsidian Conspiracy.”

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)