Album Reviews

NEVERMORE – The Obsidian Conspiracy

  • Review by: Ishaan Kumar

Brutality in music can never be likened to physical brutality. The former does not possess the same tools as required for the latter and hence, more than bodily attack, it becomes an attack on the senses.  Nevermore seem to be a band that have understood the aesthetics of such brutality and their new release, The Obsidian Conspiracy continues to be a collection of music meant not for the faint of mind and heart.

The new album’s most stark aspect is the vocal talent of Warrel Dane. Right from their self-titled debut album, his ultra-dark style of high pitch singing had carved out a bronze statue of himself on the vast and endless plains of metal. On The Obsidian Conspiracy he continues with this style but also adds to it a whole new spectrum of lower and mid frequencies. He then basically uses this whole range of frequencies by intertwining them with each other, using them in conjunction. This album sees more tremolos from him, more pitch variation than ever before.

Musically, it takes the excellence of Jeff Loomis’s guitar playing, Jim Sheppard’s bass playing and Van Williams’ skin slamming to a higher notch. I have always enjoyed the way Jeff Loomis uses the seven-string guitar not just as a show of skill but to actually explore frequencies much lower than that of a six-string. This album is much darker and has a greater deal of a supernatural sound element than its predecessor This Godless Endeavor. In fact ‘And the Maiden Spoke’ is an ode to the paranormal in all its entireity. This particular song exhibits how Nevermore are so great at creating an ambient sound not through chords but through intensely fast riff barrages and drum attacks. Jim Sheppard’s bass has been recorded, as usual, at a very high audio level and his love for the low end is most evident on ‘Emptiness Unobstructed’, the ballad on the album where the verse section consists of a nice-clean flanger on the guitar and Sheppard’s singular low frequency pounds on the bass.

The mood of this album,as discussed before, is much darker than any other Nevermore album till date. Songs like ‘The Blue Marble and the New Soul’ speak about having to live with deception and conspiracies against you all you life. ‘Without Morals’ adds a more personal touch to this topic. Throughout the album, the band brings forward the grim and harsh realities of life like deception, greed, losing a loved one, having people turn their backs on you in your moment of need etc. The poetic aspect of Nevermore’s lyrics has not lost its sheen but in fact has grown brighter. The lyrics are even more abstract than usual, something that immediately opens them up to interpretation according to the listener’s own experiences in life. Instrumentally this is achieved extremely successfully through the use of low-end riffs and melancholy, diminished note sequences and arpeggios. The shifts from soft intros to heavy sections are so seamless that even someone who has listened to only Britney Spears all her (or his) life will not get confused as to whether its the same song or not.

If you have doubts as to whether you should get this album or not, trash them now. In a nutshell, The Obsidian Conspiracy continues to be Nevermore heavy, Nevermore dark and Nevermore brutally honest. Missing it would be a total shame.