Nevermore – Swell of Darkness

Saturday, 30th March 2013

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)

If the calendar year ended at this very moment, our nod for best album of 2010 would go to Nevermore’s The Obsidian Conspiracy. Not only is it a welcome return to form for the long-running Seattle metallers (read: it’s a brilliant cross between Dead Heart In A Dead World and Politics of Ecstasy), it’s the type of album that can give a career a fresh set of legs. Not like the band needed it anyway…their profile has only increased in spite of the relative lukewarm nature of their previous two studio albums. From the opening shards of “Termination Proclamation” to the melodic du jour of “Emptiness Unobstructed” and “Without Morals,” there’s a smorgasbord of hooks and catchy riffs that are on unlimited supply here.

Fifteen years since their eponymous debut, Nevermore is finally reaping the rewards of years of hard work, critical praise, and personal setbacks. Fitting, ‘cause they’re from Seattle, but it’s heart-warming to see a band who has slugged it out for so long reach new ground. The Obsidian Conspiracy should see the band reach a new plateau and if it doesn’t, there’s something seriously wrong with this world.

Guitarist and chief songwriter Jeff Loomis phoned Blistering to talk about the new album, along with how they kept busy in between releases, and most importantly, what tomorrow knows…

Blistering.com: Five years since the last proper studio album for Nevermore, yet you and the band have stayed busy.

Jeff Loomis: Yeah, we tend to get sick of each other after a while [laughs]. Some of the guys had some health issues [bassist Jim Sheppard had Crohn’s disease] in that time, so I did my solo album, and we also the live DVD [Year of the Voyager], so we weren’t really that out of the loop. I’d say around early 2009 I started coming up with the foundation for the new songs and started giving them to Warrel [Dane, vocals]. Our fans have been patient, though. Five years in too long of a time to go between albums. It’s like 10 years in musical terms.

Blistering.com: And now you’re back to being a four-piece, which I’m sure is the most comfortable format, right?

Loomis: It’s always been that way. The four of us are friends first and foremost. We’ve had some really good players in the band like Curran Murphy, Steve Smyth and so forth. We do have a new touring guitarist from Hungary Attila Vörös. He’s not a permanent member yet, but he’s hard and very hard-working. He just sent us some videos of him playing Nevermore songs on Youtube. He’s obviously done his homework and brings all aspects of our playing to the table. And he’s a good kid.

Blistering.com: As for the new album, the first thing that stands out for me is how direct it is, which is in contrast to This Godless Endeavor, which was technical and all over the place. What prompted this?

Loomis: There were no preconceived notions of doing something like that. What we didn’t want was to do a This Godless Endeavor Part II. We’ve already done that, but the new stuff just started coming naturally. Most of it has the standard song structure , but it also has its aggressive, heavier moments. So far, we’ve had some mixed reviews on it. Some people are in love with the way we’re going, others don’t, which is weird.

Blistering.com: How did [producer] Peter Wichers factor into all of this? There had to be some level of comfort since he’s already worked with Warrel on his solo album.

Loomis: With Andy Sneap, he just recorded and mixed the songs, he never did anything in terms of the songwriting. With Peter, he would look at the demos we did and cut them up. He cut the fat off some songs, re-arranged some things to the point where they were finished songs. Also, there was no improvisation on the solos, we thought each of them out. I’d say over anything, he’s just patient and easy to work with.

Blistering.com: What songs are sticking out for you at the moment? Right now, I’d vouch for the title track and “Moonlight.”

Loomis: There’s a really cool one that I’m hoping people will notice and that’s “The Blue Marble.” It’s cool, almost cleansing type of song. “Emptiness Obstructed” is another one as well.

Blistering.com: That’s the one that begins with the chorus, a first for Nevermore.

Loomis: Right. It was cool to open up a song with a different structure. We just shot a video for that one too.

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