Released: 2010, Century Media
Five years - that's how long Nevermore have made us wait for a sequel to the still awe-inspiring THIS GODLESS ENDEAVOUR. By modern-day standards that's an absolute eternity, the length of which only the likes of Slayer or Metallica could reasonably be expected to get away with. Even so, judging by the expletive-laden comments flying thick and fast through cyberspace there's a palatable sense of occasion here; a testament to the regard which Nevermore's fanbase hold them in and aided by the fact that Century Media have this time round lavished Seattle's premier heavy metal ambassadors with the full complement of their marketing arsenal.
More than anything the taut expectation belies Nevermore's stellar track record, and in not letting themselves be rushed the quintet have ensured no inkling of a slacking in standards on THE OBSIDIAN CONSPIRACY. Album number seven this may be, but it's glaringly obvious that the band have not run short on ideas. Still, both "The Termination Proclamation" and "Your Poison Throne" kick off the record in a less grandiose fashion than you'd expect. Make no mistake, the riffs remain catchier than a case of crabs and the choruses will have you yelling along in a matter seconds but this is Nevermore in a heavier, oddly more compact than we’ve ever heard them. It's only on "Moonrise (Through Mirrors of Death" where they truly let rip into the sort of epic anthems they've evolved to a fine art over the course of their nearly two decade-long career.
Plenty such delights follow, but for me it's the haunting "Blue Marble
& The New Soul" that stands out as perhaps one of Nevermore's finest moments; if nothing else, it's certainly one of the most emotive performances you'll ever hear from Warrel Dane, whose voice soars over Jeff Loomis' subtle strings, before exploding into a scintillating crescendo. Instant comparisons to former glories are inevitable. For my money, time will tell whether this record can knock THIS GODLESS ENDEAVOUR off its lofty perch. One thing is certain, you will not hear a better example of heavy metal in its purest, most intelligent and provocative form this year.