Album Review: Nevermore's latest reaches new fans

Album ReviewThe Obsidian Conspiracy★★★

It has been five years since Nevermore released its metal masterpiece, This Godless Endeavor.

Given the long wait and the superb strength of the last release, there has been much anticipation from fans for 2010's The Obsidian Conspiracy. Unfortunately, Nevermore's latest album may well be the weakest of its career even though it is unquestionably the most accessible album the group has penned.

Nevermore has a reputation of being a tough band to get into, and fans love that. The band almost always composes very complex songs which layer multiple riffs onto a thunderous rhythm section, shifting gears multiple times throughout a song and topping it all off with intricate guitar solos from one of the best in the business, Jeff Loomis.

With Conspiracy, however, Nevermore departs from this style of songwriting. Overall, the album is more straightforward than past works, featuring shorter guitar solos and simpler songs. The result is a more accessible album that should appeal to a wider range of fans of heavy music, but long-time fans may be somewhat disappointed.

Having said that, Conspiracy is a very good, straight-up metal album. It takes a while to warm up, though. The opener, "The Termination Proclamation," is one of the weakest tracks on the album. Things build from there; each successive song is better than the one before.

Track four, "And the Maiden Spoke," is the first respectable song on the album, telling an interesting ghost story with heavy, dark verses that transform into beautiful melodic choruses. Following is another strong track, "Emptiness Unobstructed," a ballad with an awesome vocal performance and a gorgeous if painfully short-lived solo from Loomis.

Then the album hits another mediocre song, "The Blue Marble and the New Soul." It sounds like a Queensrÿche-esque ballad, but it doesn't take off and soar.

"Without Morals" is probably the best song on the album. It is more exemplary of Nevermore's past work, with three distinct sections building on each other and a solo that is fantastic, even if it's less intricate than what we're used to hearing from Loomis.

Following the best song on the album is the worst, the forgettable "The Day You Built the Wall." The album closes with a strong ballad in "She Comes in Colors" and the powerful title track that, like "Without Morals," is reminiscent of a classic Nevermore sound.

Despite this fan's complaints, The Obsidian Conspiracy is a strong metal album that should gain Nevermore some new fans without losing too many old ones.