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Yes, another metalcore band from Germany. Not a ringing endorsement in my mind, or that of the average metal-archives regular. However, my problem with the genre has never been its stylistic elements - Gothenburg riffage, breakdowns, hardcore vox, poppy accessibility and the overall idea of mixing metal and non-metal elements; nothing inherently wrong with it as far as I'm concerned, I'm all down. No, the problem I have is the abundance of sucky bands operating within it, and conversely, the lack of good ones - among bands signed to major (relatively for metal) labels, the latter amount to less than I can count on my fingers. Fortunately, amidst disasters like Caliban and Haste the Day, Neaera's 2005 debut is a real asskicker of a record that beats the pants off nearly all the big names of the genre.
Although hardcore elements are clearly present, this album is slanted more towards melodeath and pseudo thrash along with the odd straight death metal section, being less breakdown-centered than typical for the style. No commercial, poppy, clean-sung choruses here; this here is metalcore with metal emphasized. As with much metalcore, At the Gates' final album is a big influence on the guitar work here - intensely melodic, yet thrashy and aggressive. Additionally, another considerable influence present is one of teutonic thrash, as much of the album has a vibe of Extreme Aggressions/Coma of Souls-era Kreator, despite its more melodic Slaughter of the Soul leanings. Some of this might be due to production duties being handled by Andy Classen of Holy Moses, who by the way does an outstanding job. Think a beefier and more modern version of the aforementioned Kreator albums, yet without sacrificing their raw and dirty edge. Stylistically, there's nothing unique about this; making the album stand out among its contemporaries is simply a matter of songwriting quality. The riffs aren't boring, the breakdowns don't sound redundant or shoehorned in and the mixing of metal and core feels natural.
Something needs to be said about the vocals: they're absolutely stellar and practically make the album at times, sounding a bit like Mille Petrozza doing hardcore/screamo vocals. Where vocalists in metalcore bands tend to just scream for screaming's sake, this guy sounds genuinely pissed off, delivering at a constant 110% for the album's duration. That is, when he's not doing death growls - these are a bit weak unfortunately, but not as frequent as the much superior core-styled vocals, thankfully. Also, one common pitfall of metalcore is avoided through wisely omitting soft clean vocals - bands that make use of these tend to integrate them within otherwise very aggressive songs in a rather clumsy manner (other than the cleans often being poor in and by themselves). Killswitch Engage may have pulled this off brilliantly in 2002, but they're certainly in minority, and Neaera are doing just fine as it is with what they have.
What can I say, this one just rips from start to finish. Barely any filler here. While hugely derivative and low on variety, The Rising Tide of Oblivion does what it does better than nearly anyone else. Catchy, energetic, passionate and overall just insanely enjoyable, this album is warmly recommended for anyone even remotely into metalcore/melodeath, and could potentially appeal to those more versed in thrash metal as well.
Germany’s Neaera get into some serious speed metal at certain points over the course their Metal Blade Records debut, “The Rising Tide Of Oblivion”. This group constructs some seriously thrashy shit coupled with a few core breakdowns. These sounds are made all the more intense with deep, gurgling vocals and heavy grit screams from vocalist Benjamin Hilleke that ring with the fury of a man standing on the edge of complete despair.
Infectious riffs abound on this record, including some particularly intricate scalar work on “Save The Drowning Child”. On “Broken Spine”, you’ll find Hilleke wailing overtop a Megadeth influenced riff that bursts into a torrid hyperblast. The guitarists Stefan Keller and Tobias Buck take occasion to explore the depths of melodic interplay on “Walls Instead Of Bridges”, which burns along at a torrid pace before kicking into a downbeat, massive sounding chorus accentuated by deep accompanying vocals which offset Hilleke’s scratchy vocalizations in a traditional manner. The guitar lead on this track in particular is very tasteful; a dueling solo wherein both guitarists take turns at some ripping licks, their shots at it separated by variances in tone, helping to make this one of the best tracks on the record.
Probably the most ferocious track you’ll find on the album is the frantic opening cut, “The World Devourers” which balances precision chaos and tuneful harmonies, building into a massive, driving crescendo. Neaera can unleash a torrent of rabid metalcore just as well as most other bands going and the fact that they focus more upon the metal edge throughout their compositions in favor of adding catchy, melodic choruses just for the sake of doing so gives the band a lot more credibility amongst those who are tired of cookie cutter, patterned metal.
“The Rising Tide Of Oblivion” never fails to deliver one hundred percent bone- splintering mayhem throughout each of its thirteen tracks, making for a substantial offering from a brash newcomer ready to shake up the international metal scene.
A few weeks back I questioned the decision of Metal Blade in signing an act like Winter Solstice to their roster. Now WS are not the worst you’ll hear, but in light of similar sounding acts like Unearth and Cataract, I suggested that maybe their presence was a case of one too many. Reading the PR bio and its references to all that is ‘Metal’ and ‘Core’, one could almost pose the same question regarding the signing of German upstarts ‘Neaera’. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting too much. But then I listened to it!
Before I proceed any further, I’d like to mention that any other reviews that you may have read about this disc being just another pain by numbers Metalcore release may not be giving credit where credit is due. Furthermore, I actually don’t concur with the description either. Sure, Neaera may not be doing anything new in terms of musical ideas (and as we know, that has never stopped me from liking anything), but I tell you now, I reckon this mob are a tad more exciting than most who wallow in the melodic death/Metalcore scene.
Backed by a simply phenomenal Andy Classen production (one of his very best I think), Neaera make their intentions clear from the very first note. Forging a superb blend of Scandinavian style melodic death (ala Amon Amarth and At the Gates) meets brutal Euro Metalcore (ala Heaven Shall Burn) meets classic German thrash ‘The Rising Tide of Oblivion’ is a veritable barrage of razor sharp riffage and powerful dynamics. Modern in sound, brisk, energetic and always on the money melody wise, this disc gets better with every listen. There’s nothing original about it, but fucking hell, is it convincing.
The most impressive aspect about Neaera is their ability to meld those colossal Amon Amarth melodic leads with the tight, angular riffage of At the Gates. Consequently, there is a shit load more death metal about this album than any of the so called ‘core’ elements that has been overstated with this release. Granted there are the odd mid-tempo chugging breakdowns, but it’s more of a colour effect than anything staple in their sound. And whilst some might baulk at Benjamin Hilleke’s screamo style vocals (again the ‘core’ link), I’d suggest he sounds more like a sicker Mille Petrozza than anything else. The fact that this disc has a serious German thrash quotient about it makes the Kreator comparison even more solid. Not content with being a one trick pony however, Hilleke also delves into death/doom style growling that reminds me of the vocalist from Skepticism and Adrian Leroux formerly of Mindrot. Add some serious cool blast beats to the mix and Neaera have captured a seriously potent mixture of style that cannot fail to impress.
Yeah, the naysayers won’t have any of this folks. Sure, it’s a mixture of some fairly well entrenched styles, but the fact remains that Neaera simply do it way better than most. And again I reiterate that the Metalcore tag is seriously overrated on this disc. Melodic death meets Euro Thrash is the key here and it rips. Metal Blade has nailed themselves a little gem with Neaera. Oh yes, I like this a lot.
original review for http://www.pyromusic.net
First, let me say that there is nothing unique about this. It's been done before, again and again, but what makes this rule so much is, it's done here better than what you've probably heard in the past. This band rips completely. Fast, catchy riffs and leads, great drumming and TOTALLY PERFECT production. Yes, this album is great.
This band can play. They seemlessly blend death metal riffing with melodic death leads and metalcore chugs. There's some fast pseudo thrash riffage here as well. Good vocalist too, not very generic as you'd expect for this genre, he sounds pretty much on his own. The drumming is really good, relentless double bass and timed crashes, really fast too. And as I previously mentioned, absolutely gorgeous production. Clean, and very heavy, and doesn't sound overworked. The double bass is heard as it should be, with that perfect 'THUMP' and the vocals and guitars are the perfect volume in the mix and the breakdowns are collossal. The songs here just sound so good, it's an album you listen to all at once.
There are two instrumentals here (which are imperative for Metalcore these days) 'From Grief...' and 'The Last Silence'. Both are nice but could've just as well been omitted. One weakspot I'd like to point out is, is the soft, clean break on the lead off track 'The World Devourers'. It's a bit deceiving, you'd think the album fits the tone of that track but it really doesn't.
So I recommend this to fans of Metalcore or Melodic Death in general. It's really good and inspired. Go get it, it rules. If you hate the mainstream Metalcore scene, check this out. The underground brand of Metalcore is much better and you should really test it out.
Recommended Listening: Walls Instead of Bridges, To Oblivion, Broken Spine.