Melodic death metal band Neaera dazzled the masses with a tempestuous flirtation with hardcore in Let the Tempest Come, a romance that blossomed into a fully-fledged marriage in their acclaimed third record Armamentarium. While Tobias Buck (also guitarist of extreme metal outfit Malzan) insists that Neaera serves as his outlet for 'exploring Swedish melodic death metal'; in Omnicide - Creation Unleashed the melodies have been pared back to allow vicious thrashy riffs free reign. Opening with I Loathe, the record immediately bounds with crackling energy, channeling the Bjorler Brothers' (At the Gates, the Haunted) earlier work as riff meticulously pummels the listener with a lumbering onslaught of riff carnage.
Prey to Anguish continues apace, upping the ante with solid slabs of intense rhythm backed by intricate fingerwork and pummeling drums. The percussion sounds just as meticulously composed as the ear bending guitars that seem to catch the listener unaware with a plethora of sonic twists and turns: a pitch bend here, a harmonic there. They set the agenda for their riff-wraithing, while soaring guitar lines shore up the bulk of The Wretched of the Earth. The riffs are sufficiently heavy, emphasizing a mood of brooding violence, even in the (almost) savage breakdowns they strive to create. Unfortunately, that's where the riff bonanza ends and the quality of the music sharply declines.
Fundamentally, after the mid-tempo Age of Hunger, the compositions begin to feel like pale imitations of the greatness attained on Armamentarium - their trademark rapid-fire tremelo picking sounds "samey" as the disc continues, and hammer-on punctuations feel overly repetitious. Unfortunately, the hidden nuggets of exemplary musicianship peppered throughout don't act as a counter to an overall deficit of ideas and a rapid collapse of dimensions as the disc wears on. The disc labors into a derivative, ceaseless noise in the second half, falling spectacularly flat compared against the first. The Nothing Doctrine feels much groovier than any of the other tracks which could be compared to latter-day Chimaira, but only seems to be a slight deviation from their formula that will struggle to keep attention spans from wandering.
Melodic death fans that tend to like their death more than their melody might hear some worth in it, although the disc remains very hard to recommend to all but the most ardent fans of this very niche style.
Neaera's Omnicide is out now on Metal Blade/Riot.