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Neaera > Ours Is the Storm > Reviews
Neaera - Ours Is the Storm

Back to the drawing board you go - 43%

Bloodstone, December 3rd, 2014

Despite having released six albums on Metal Blade, Neaera continue to linger in relative obscurity and are often dismissed band as just another generic metalcore band among those who have heard them. Sure, there's some truth to that notion, but there's something to be said for their ability to captivate with ripping intensity that does require more than just copy and paste. Given they're a small band with a small fanbase of which I am a part, I almost don't want to write this review, because damn if my disappointment isn't palpable with their latest offering. Three years is an unusually long time for Neaera to put a new album out, which sadly did not translate to the Germans having amassed a ton good ideas in that interim period.

Riffs and breakdowns on here sound very rehashed from the previous album, yet somehow worse and not as punchy. Their trademark churning melodic tremolo riffs that added a cool bleakly epic sort of atmosphere to past records here feel sluggish and unenthusiastic. With no real chops to show for them, what I imagine happened is that upon realizing this, in their desperation the band decided to throw in some strange experimentation, hoping some of it would somehow fly however poorly thought through. For instance, "My Night Is Starless" has weird recurring calm sections where the sound mix is played around with in a mildly irritating way. I suppose the intent is to achieve more ambience, but it just comes off as gimmicky. "Slaying the Wolf Within" features a curious guest performance by the vocalist from a band named BOYSETSFIRE (ANDSTEALSSPACEANDCAPSLOCKKEYS), sounding a bit like Marco Hietala of Nightwish/Tarot morphed into a hardcore singer half-shouting, half-weeping out his lines. A real cringer there.

The thing Neaera do throughout the whole album, though, is to add certain tremolo riffs different from the ones they normally play. These consist of higher notes, their guitar sound mix is all trebly highs and no bottom end, and they give off a distinctly "cold" feel – pray tell, what sub-genre does that description match? Yes, Ours Is the Storm constitutes Neaera's bold foray into black metal. I appreciate the audacity of a metalcore band attempting something like this, but unfortunately they don't commit to it enough to really turn things on their head. The result is a strange, awkward redecoration instead of a more fundamental redesign of the music, which would have been necessary for a true genre blending (one that I'd be interested in hearing, however insane it may sound). Make no mistake, Ours... steadfastly remains a metalcore/melodeath album and not a lot is gained from these ill-advised little deviations. It doesn't help either that said black metal-style riffs are in and of themselves often fairly annoying and not so grim, with "Ascend to Chaos" being especially headache-inducing.

There are flashes of goodness here and there (title track's a legit banger) and Neaera's particular sound at its core still carries some inherent enjoyment for me. But overall, this album is plainly an uninspired mess. It's not a total disaster, but I've come to expect so much more. What can I say, hope the well hasn't run dry and that they'll seriously rethink things until next time. *goes and gets brutalized by ARMAMENTARIUM*