Sound: With its 4th album Omnicide Creation Unleashed, Germany's Neaera does not disappoint with its blend of unyielding melodic death metal. Each of the 10 tracks on the latest album is a workout for the ears, and actually leaves you dumbfounded at how drummer Sebastian Heldt maintains such energy throughout. There is a heavy dose of double bass pedal, which becomes an essential element in driving home the amazing rhythm section of the band. Breakdowns and slower, chugging sections do occur, but the vast majority of Omnicide Creation Unleashed hits you like a slap in the face in the best possible way, of course.
Neaera (originally formed under the name Ninth Gate) has been the brainchild of Malzan guitarist Tobias Buck, who started the band to explore his interest in the Swedish death metal genre. The band is living up to that lofty quest with the new album, which was produced by Alexander Dietz and recorded under the magic touch of mixer/man of the hour, Zeuss. Omnicide Creation Unleashed is the kind of album that immediately makes an impression in terms of its aggression, but will need several listens to appreciate all of the various nuances that are heard in each track.
The opening song I Loathe immediately sets in with a slick guitar line, chugging guitars, and of course, the double bass pedal. Vocalist Benjamin Hilleke alternates between high-pitched, banshee-like screams and low growls, a method that has surprisingly effective results. Hilleke's vocals are often doubled up (high on top of low), and it makes for quite an eerie sound. Prey To Anguish is equally as intense as I Loathe, but its chorus tends to have more of a melodic dare I say, hummable aspect to it. That's not to say that there is ever any traditional singing, but Neaera still conveys a memorable tune with its instrumentation and chanted vocals.
Guitarists Stefan and Tobias Buck have their moments as well, switching between memorable lead work and insanely fast, rhythmic picking. Standout tracks for their work include the Slayer-meets-Zakk Wylde Grave New World and the low-end, sludge glory of The Nothing Doctrine. Each member of the band plays a key role in creating the Neaera sound, and if you're not bothered by incomprehensible, growled vocals, then you'll find plenty of reasons to embrace the new record. // 8
Lyrics: As was mentioned earlier, it is a mighty task to understand what vocalist Benjamin Hilleke is singing about throughout the course of the CD. It's actually a shame that the lyrics remain rather overshadowed by the music because there are some interesting themes throughout. The standout track is undoubtedly The Wretched of the Earth, which was written in response to the Ugandan rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (Abducted to the thousands; Carried off to dust in brightest day; Nurtured with illiteracy besieged by rage).
The topics of the remaining tracks might not be quite as specific, but there is still some thoughtful word construction in several songs. Highlights include I Loathe (I loathe the dumbing down, manipulation; Decry the tools of the trade that make us kneel) and Caesura (In modern ivory tower; Existence is dehumanized; When complacency calculates; Exploitation becomes relative). // 9
Overall Impression: While it's easy to give a famous audio engineer like Zeuss credit in making Omnicide Creation Unleashed a successful recording, the real credit goes to the amazing musicianship within the players of Neaera. It's an exhausting listen at times because the band doesn't rely on breakdowns or mellowed-out moments as much as some of their peers, but the band keeps things interesting by adding in some creative lead parts that echo the rhythm section. There are songs like Age of Hunger that might not stand out quite as much as the rest of the tracklist, but even those moments feature jaw-dropping chemistry within the rhythm section. // 9