Released: 2006, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Germany’s Neaera must have sold their souls to Satan himself because in less than two years, they have released a demo, signed a worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records two months after that and are just preparing to release their second full-length album—in twelve months!!—on that label. All this since February 2004! Whatever the band has done has certainly served them well, as last year’s THE RISING TIDE OF OBLIVION was a scorcher of an album that came out of nowhere like a sucker punch to the back of the head. The band’s blend of The Black Dahlia Murder-influenced death metal combined with classic Swedish melodic death was hardly an original exercise but damn if it didn’t hit hard. What beleaguered that album was the band’s obvious lack of songwriting experience. So have things improved on LET THE TEMPEST COME? Somewhat. The band’s lyrics are still rooted firmly in a misanthropic view of society at large but instead of taking the melodic death ball and running with it, Neaera seems to have gone the other direction, opting for a trip down the gridlocked metalcore highway. THE RISING TIDE OF OBLIVION had hints of it and the band comes from a hardcore background but they seemed poised to not take the route that most other bands—especially those found on Metal Blade—are taking. The end result is another blistering release but instead of sharing ranks with fellow countrymen Fear My Thoughts, Neaera now seems to be headed down the same oft-trodden path as Machinemade God, If Hope Dies and…well, the other 90% of the bands on Metal Blade’s roster. On a positive note, LET THE TEMPEST COME has a much bigger, fuller sound thanks to the production of Jacob Hansen (Hatesphere, Communic, Mercenary, Raunchy, Fear My Thoughts). Benny Hilleke’s throat-shredding vocals are also more pronounced and the guitar team of Tobias Buck and Stefan Keller once again steals the show with clean, crisp leads and tight, thrash-based riffs. With that said, the same description can also be laid upon many of the metalcore CDs that find their way across my desk in what is fast becoming the most oversaturated market in metal. Neaera needed to do something different with their sophomore CD and instead they seem to have followed the status quo.
“Mechanisms of Standstill” is a monster opener with blasting double bass, thrash riffs and a finger-tapping solo drawn from the melodic death gods. “Plagueheritage” is a surprising track as its scathing lyrics touch on the scourge of German society—neo-Nazis—and how they further instill an ugly stereotype of the nation’s citizens. “God-Forsaken Soil” (featuring Hatesphere’s Jacob Bredahl on guest vocals) skewers the Catholic Church and its antiquated value system (“you rest on your cross and tradition, in defiance of change and progression…hands are bound to a bygone doctrine and eyes allergic to reality”), while “Heavenhell” is an apology to Mother Earth and the crimes that humanity perpetrate against her. The shrieking vocals of “Desecrators” continues the condemning lyrical path as religious fanatics get poked. With all these subjects receiving notice via Neaera’s vocals, it becomes increasingly obvious that alongside the breakdowns, brutality and infectious riffs, this band has a collective head on their shoulders and are deeper than your typical pissed-off pack of metalheads. Musically, Neaera can deliver the goods and the instrumental “Life Damages The Living” sees Buck and Keller go toe-to-toe for a classically-driven, acoustic/electric solo combination. There is just something about the way these two handle their guitars that give them a slight edge over the rest of the metalcore drones.
Neaera certainly holds ranks with the upper echelon of European metalcore bands but on a global (OK, North American) scale, they seem to get lost among the deluge of bands hopping on the bandwagon. Had LET THE TEMPEST COME been released in 2002 or 2003, it would have set precedents for what should be expected of a metalcore release. Instead, with a sea of bands that would stretch from here to the moon and back (several times), Neaera gets lost in the shuffle. LET THE TEMPEST COME is a brutally heavy, competently-played metalcore CD but there isn’t much to get excited about with so many bands doing exactly the same thing. Hopefully, album number three from Neaera will offer a little more originality because the talent is clearly in place for a groundbreaking release. If rooting for them.
KILLER KUTS: “Mechanisms of Standstill,” “God-Forsaken Soil,” “Desecrators,” “Paradigm Lost”