Neaera – Armamentarium (Metal Blade Records)

Thursday, 14th March 2013
Rating: 7/10

At long last, the German metalcore scene is shedding its uniform and copycat image. For a short time, say two or three years ago, Maroon, Heaven Shall Burn, Neaera, Fear My Thoughts, and Caliban all came dangerously to sharing songwriting royalties for their amazing inability to separate from one another. Granted, some are still stuck in the mire, but Neaera and Heaven Shall Burn look like they’re ready for a coming out party.

The German metalcore sound is basically Swedish metal of the Gothenburg variety, with the occasional beatdown thrown in for the heck of it. For Neaera, their polka-on high approach is more akin to standard Swede-thrash like Terror 2000 or even Ebony Tears.

Blistering, spirited trucks like “Tools of Greed” and “Harbinger” have a certain ferocity to them that is both palpable and muscular. The crunch and down-churn of Neaera’s riffs set off the title track and “In Loss,” one of the more melodically-inclined numbers included.

If there was one complaint to be leveled at Armamentarium, it’s that a certain saminess creeps in towards the mid-to-end mark, as would-be punishing songs like “The Orphaning” and “Mutiny of Untamed Minds” lose their luster and pop simply for the fact that we already heard it a few songs ago.

No one is ever going to accuse Neaera of doing Swedish metal better than its forerunners, but their hard-nose and grinding approach to this style is commendable. Given the immediate breadth and heaviness of these 11 songs, it would be hard to dismiss Neaera. So we won’t and will save that for the other few bands of the German metalcore ilk who should just quit and form one big band in order to save on plastic and time.

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