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Neaera: The Rising Tide of Oblivion

Neaera was formed by the guitarist of death/grind metal band Malzan in 2003, when Tobias Buck wanted to explore more melodic songwriting with polished production and The Black Dahlia Murder type of scream vocals. The Rising Tide of Oblivion is their debut album and it successfully realizes Buck's intentions.

The album is driven by the dual lead guitar works of Tobias Buck and Stefan Keller, who often harmonise with each other producing delicate textures with a lot of breakdowns. Far from the typical single-minded aggression of most metalcore bands, Neaera utilises both clean and scream vocals by Benny Hilleke who also does some serious deep growls. Starting with the highly melodic "The World Devourers", an energetic piece littered with fast drumming, the song highlights Hilleke's screechy vocals that then turn into smooth clean harmonies. The breakdown towards the end suggests Neaera is different from its contemporaries. They stand head and shoulders above in the crowd, as they know how to incorporate strong, hook-laden passages in their music, retaining their Swedish melodicism inherited by the likes of At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity. The big, epic opening of "Anthem of Despair" features low guttural vocals that belie the fact that it's the same guy doing those toxic screams on the more metalcore-infused "Walls Instead of Bridges". With "Where Submission Reigns", the band returns to its Dark Tranquillity style galloping riffs with searing vocals, much more similar to Carcass than the band's Swedish influences. After a brief acoustic instrumental with some cello and violin sounds, they start war on "...To Oblivion", perhaps their heaviest moment on the album, before calming things down with a beautifully composed melodic outro.

Claus Ulka from Misery Speaks guests on "Definition of Love", another stand-out track. The band's love for metalcore particularly shows in the second half, especially on tunes like "Hibernating Reason" and "No Coming Home", with perhaps a bit too excessive screaming. Thankfully, the latter also features a slow, ethereal twin guitar harmony at the end. The album concludes with another acoustic intro, much like the sixth track, except that the cello plays a more prominent role this time.

Though anyone who's into Swedish death metal and the more popular stuff of bands like The Black Dahlia Murder might think Neaera is cliché and obtuse, I beg to differ. It's the way they weave melodic songwriting with electrifying guitar work that gives them an extra edge, though repeat listens may be necessary.

  1. The World Devourers
  2. Broken Spine
  3. Anthem of Despair
  4. Walls Instead of Bridges
  5. Where Submission Reigns
  6. From Grief...
  7. ...To Oblivion
  8. Hibernating Reason
  9. Definition of Love
  10. Save the Drowning Child
  11. Beyond the Gates
  12. No Coming Home
  13. The Last Silence

Added: March 15th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Neaera website
Hits: 2118
Language: english

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