The Obsidian Conspiracy Review

artist: Nevermore date: 09/01/2010 category: compact discs
Nevermore: The Obsidian Conspiracy
Released: May 28, 2010
Genre: Progressive/thrash metal
Label: Century Media
Number Of Tracks: 10
It doesnt feel like its been five years since we were treated to one of Nevermores best efforts in This Godless Endeavor. Touring for several years, solo efforts and a live DVD has helped to fill the void, yet it doesnt even come close to match the excitement one is filled with now that finally The Obsidian Conspiracy is upon us.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 7.3
 Overall Impression: 7.3
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reviews (4) 56 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.3
The Obsidian Conspiracy Reviewed by: UG Team, on may 28, 2010
5 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sound: There were several of us who were a bit worried when it was announced that Peter Wichers would produce the new album. Wichers and Dane worked together on Dane's excellent solo album, Praises To The War Machine. While it was a very enjoyable effort, the question-marks raised regarding how Wichers/Dane would mesh with Loomis were indeed justified. Not only that, but the simple fact that they'd again write and record as a four-piece after the departure of relative newcomer Steve Smythe. When listening to the album, it's clear that the production remains the same. Nevermore's efforts in the past decade have one constant, and that is the style of production that Andy Sneap introduced them to. It is heavy, thick and complements Jeff Loomis' accentuated and aggressive riffs perfectly. If we completely disregard the quality of playing, then I'd say Jeff hasn't sounded this good ever, his solo effort aside. He has had performances but none have been captured as well as on The Obsidian Conspiracy. Behind all of this remains the spine, the backbone of the Nevermore sound and that is the combination of Van Williams' drumming and Jim Shepherd's bass. It might not be the first thing to catch your attention, but remove it and the void is immense. // 9

Lyrics: Warrel Dane is one of the most easily recognizable vocalists and lyricists in modern metal. It's obvious that Dane feels comfortable when working with Wichers, because they have managed to retain the same relaxed and focused vibe they established on Praises To The War Machine. While it is a far cry from the Sanctuary, or even Politics-days, Warrel stays within his comfort zone and delivers exactly what the song needs, and that is his unique touch and style. It might be that Warrel used some of his best writings in recent years for his solo effort, such as Messenger and When We Pray, that would've fit nicely into Nevermore's realm. Half-jokingly, I would've liked more references to the pigs (Born) but Warrel still has his style and his way of putting things that make him stand out above other lyricists in the genre. // 8

Overall Impression: It's been awhile since Nevermore recorded as a four-piece and I'd still liken this album to Dead Heart In A Dead World, which in many ways was a watershed between the old and the new Nevermore and was a huge source of debate within the fanbase. Is The Obsidian Conspiracy as controversial? Not nearly, as it's not that much of a departure from their recent string of albums. The Peter Wichers-influence is very noticeable as it's safe to say that he has affected the direction of the band on this album, but it still sounds fresh and unmistakably like Nevermore. It is on the short side of what we're used to, at roughly 44 minutes split onto 10 tracks. In my book, that's obviously not a bad thing as there's little room for filler and the guys deliver the goods without missing a step. One of my friends said that it's a good album but there aren't that many songs where you find yourself saying now we're talking, like with riff-fests such as Born and Enemies of Reality. I'm inclined to agree, but Nevermore still know how to pen a good, catchy and heavy song. It is undeniably heavy, it's just not as riff-and-solo-centric as This Godless Endeavor was. Then again, that was one of the best albums in that department of the past decade, so trying to top it in the same fashion would almost have been foolish. The Obsidian Conspiracy will probably disappoint a few fans, but on the whole it's an extremely solid effort, that manages to bring something new to the band's sound without completely altering it. I have a hard time finding a song that doesn't have something worthwhile, as both Loomis and Dane rarely miss the mark in a song. Some songs have a vibe where Warrel takes the frontseat, and some let Jeff shine a bit more. Playing off one another on such a level and with such reliability is extremely rare, and that's one of the key reasons why Nevermore are still hugely successful, almost 20 years after their inception. // 8

- Petter Carnbro aka Reviewer Pete (c) 2010

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overall: 7
The Obsidian Conspiracy Reviewed by: bastardsodecent, on may 31, 2010
1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: 5 years ago, Nevermore released yet another phenomenal album, about disproving religion through science, titled "This Godless Endeavor". Today, they follow up this masterpiece with This Obsidian Conspiracy, however, listening to it begs the question of whether it was really worth the wait or not. The recording quality, as usual, was good, around the same quality as "This Godless Endeavor". However, musically, this album didn't have the same wow factor as the last 3 albums had, I wanted TGE to be followed up by a guitar masterpiece, brutal as f**k, with snarling guitar riffs and 7 string sweeps. However, I was disappointed. The guitar solos were... Dull really. Too slow, and even when they were slow, they were rarely slow in a soulful and compositionally godsmacking way like in "Sentient 6" from "This Godless Endeavor". And the lack of sweeps p***ed me off. I wanted Loomis to beat TGE for guitar parts, like he did with "Zero Order Phase". The worst solos he's recorded for a while. Still gets a 7, because there are good moments too, the title track has amazing riffage. // 7

Lyrics: The vocals are okay overall here. In songs like "Without Morals" the harmonies are amazing, whereas in the title track, they are blatantly off key. Very disappointing, especially considering these guys know their theory. Same with lyrics. "Your Poison Throne" has great lyrics, such as "What do you want from this world? What do you want from this life? What do you want from this season of sorrow that's waiting to swallow the light?", which isn't complimented with the unimaginative hookline of the title track- "The Obsidian Conspiracy is rising". Strange... The one song which is outstanding musically sucks lyrically and vocally. Still gets a 7 overall. // 7

Overall Impression: To sum up- this was a disappointment, but not a bad album by any means. Topping the others was going to be hard, but after hearing Loomis and Danes solo albums, I had high hopes for this. It came across as though they had run out of ideas, if I'm being honest. The album started amazing, with "Termination Proclamation", a song which promised so much from its aggressive, diminshed intro. However, it got pretty boring from then onwards, and didn't hit me in the way that Born managed to. "Your Poison Throne" seemed a bit repetitive musically for my taste, despite my liking of the vocals. However, it had one of the best guitar solos in the album, but in all honesty, it's not saying that much. "Moonrise" however, changed the face of the album for a brief moment, it was a very unusual and catchy song, but not catchy in a sellout way, and I really liked it for these reasons. However, "And The Maiden Spoke" was a very unusual song, in a good way. As aforementioned, the lyrics let it down, but it had some amazing sections, and was a very raw and powerful song. "Emptiness Obstructed" is a masterpiece, if it were not for the chorus being repeated 24-7. And starting with the chorus... That's teetering towards dangerous territory. However, bar the chorus which now grates on me, it is an amazing song, and was probably one of the only "wow" moments I felt during this album. "The Blue Marble And The New Soul". Not a bad song by any means. However, it was one of the many that was too soft for too long in my opinion. I hated when the song kicked in though... Major key modulation? Dear me. On a brighter note, the chorus was amazing, tons of strange chords, it sounded epically dark. "Without Morals" was amazing. The vocal harmonies were beautiful, and get me everytime I hear it. The pre-chorus and chorus are both amazing and powerful, and this is one of my favourite songs on the album, I will say that without a second's hesitation. "The Day You Built The Wall". Beware of this song. Nobody seems to like it. I love the chorus, but the verse is quite dire, and the chorus backing is too repetative. I wanted Politics era Nevermore, after I heard the chorus on YouTube. It was just a lazy sounding song, which needed more time put into it in my opinion. "She Comes In Colors". Like "This Godless Endeavor" before it, the American-English spelling made me wince XD. It was a good song, a bit soft, however, but the acoustic parts were very good, and I think that it's one of the better ones in this album. "The Obsidian Conspiracy" is the one to watch. It was worth the wait. Well, that's what I thought at first, before the off key harmonies and lazy lyrics kicked in. It is the one moment of true brutality in the album, and I don't feel like this album overall should be the final product (get it? ) of a band who in the last decade had released albums like Dead Heart, Enemies, and Godless, and whatever went wrong compositionally needs to be definitely sorted for the next release. Oh and another thing, Nevermore, don't wait another 5 f**king years before the next release, only to constantly delay the albums release. Any questions? If so, contact me. I may have sounded very critical here, but this was still a good album, so it gets a decent and respectable rating all the same. NEVERMORE FOR LIFE! // 7

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overall: 7
The Obsidian Conspiracy Reviewed by: Metal_link111, on june 09, 2010
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Since they first emerged out of Seattle, Nevermore have forged a reputation that has seen them become one of the most preeminent heavy metal acts in the contemporary era. Recognised and admired for their fusion of powerful riffs, flawless technicality and ballad-like vocals, Nevermore's 7th studio album The Obsidian Conspiracy was, no doubt, the most anticipated album of 2010. Released a long five years after the masterful This Godless Endeavor, The Obsidian Conspiracy is a technically-sound and imaginatively unique addition to the band's already extensive discography. Stylistically speaking, Nevermore maintain the core identity of the band through the use of carefully structured, iconic riffs and a unique blend of rhythm, speed and technicality. As one of the most identifiable aspects of the Nevermore sound, it is difficult to fault the production and sonic quality of the album. Like every album before it, The Obsidian Conspiracy is wonderfully mastered by long-time producer Andy Sneap in a way that beautifully complements the aggressive and equally melodic aspects of each song. Guitarist Jeff Loomis is, again, a notable contributor to the overall sonic direction of the album, but despite the polished nature of his guitar work, there is an evident transition towards a more rock-focussed style. Unlike most Nevermore albums Loomis appears to be a lot less technically creative, opting for controlled rather than excessive guitar solos. The more notable tracks include Emptiness Unobstructed and Moonrise (Through Mirrors of Death) where traditional riffs and a handful of enjoyable solos are plentiful. However, while the guitar work demonstrates a commendable sense of maturation, Loomis' limited range does make the album significantly less enjoyable than its technically proficient predecessor. While Loomis' contribution is undeniably important, the rhythmic core of the band cannot be forgotten. As the backbone of the Nevermore sound, drummer Van Williams provides a superb performance fusing together aggressive, fast and technically challenging drum beats. On tracks such as The Termination Proclamation and She Comes in Colours Williams, together with bassist Jim Sheppard, perform an invigorating and equally energetic mix of rhythmic beats that continue to be so vital to the band's identity. Similarly, Warrel Dane's vocal performance is one that never ceases to identify him as one of the best vocal performers in the contemporary heavy metal scene. His wonderfully unique tone stimulates the senses and allows listeners to vicariously connect with the story being told. Perhaps the most impressionable aspect of his performance on The Obsidian Conspiracy is Dane's broad vocal range. During Your Poison Throne Dane opts for a more aggressive and deeper tone that effortlessly transcends into difficult operatic-like vocals that are significantly higher in range. It's a transition that is virtually unmatched by contemporary metal vocalists and continues to be one of the most appealing aspects of Nevermore. While Dane's vocal range is not nearly as broad as on Dead Heart in a Dead World and This Godless Endeavor they are a positive contribution to the overall identity of the new album. Because Loomis' influence on this album is more subdued than on previous albums, Dane is handed a more prominent role that is well deserved. // 8

Lyrics: However, putting the sonic elements aside there was one aspect that slightly diminished the overall appeal of the album. Lyrically, the songs are evidently weaker in their thematic direction. Slightly more simplistic and with a greater emphasis on repetition, the lyrics that appear on The Obsidian Conspiracy could never match those that appeared on Enemies of Reality, Dead Heart in a Dead World or, most notably, This Godless Endeavor. Because the presence of Warrel Dane is far greater on this album the lyrics are easily picked-up and, as such, their many flaws are sadly evident. // 6

Overall Impression: Yet, while there are qualities that are either lacking or subdued in Nevermore's latest release it cannot be seen as a diminished ability to write truly magnificent songs. In my opinion, the expectations for this album were unreasonably high and the anxious 5-year wait only fuelled the expectation of god-like brilliance. Overall, the album does not instantly hook you in like other releases and it is likewise very different to the elaborate masterpieces of the past however, it is still a worthy contribution to the Nevermore discography which itself is faultless. // 7

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overall: 7.7
The Obsidian Conspiracy Reviewed by: colm c, on september 01, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The band here have taken a step in a different direction with the new album The Obsidian Conspiracy. Gone are the eight minute slogs of progressive virtuosity and in are the shorter slices of song arrangement prowess and catchy song chorus'. Its a gamble they've taken with this evolution in sound but one I feel has paid off through the sheer convincing job they've done in the writing of the material. It is just a quality cd. Jeff has taken a back seat with the lead work here too giving the song itself the spotlight instead of the impressive fret work he is know for. Not to say the solos aren't some of the most tasteful he has ever played and the riffing isn't frantic and mind boggling, cause it is! // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics are one of the more hotly debated aspects of this album along with the singers vocal ability. People have a problem with the style of which Warrel Dane sings, he's like marmite you either like him him or you don't. Personally I love his style and think his vocals compliment the madness of Jeff Loomis riffing and song direction. This album is no different in this regard, Beautifully layered vocal sections and catchy choruses which soar in the songs are abundant. // 8

Overall Impression: Overall I am astounded by the album. The strength of the song writing shows how in the four and a half years since This Godless Endeavor the band have matured as musicians and lyricists and have become leaders in their fields. The album lapses into the middle but picks up to a frantic finish in the title song. Or if like me you have the special edition you get the most imaginative versions of Temptation and the Crystal Ship I've heard. // 7

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