Neaera

Forging the Eclipse

1. The Forging
2. Heaven’s Descent
3. In Defiance
4. Eight Thousand Sorrows Deep
5. Arise Black Vengeance
6. Rubikon
7. Sirens of Black
8. Certitude
9. Exaltation
10. Tyranny of Want
11. The Prophecy
12. And to Posterity a Plague

[Metal Blade | 10/26/10]

The metalcore/melodic death metal genre has never really appealed to me. Bands like Fear My Thoughts and Heaven Shall Burn have only been given a minute amount of listens from me for one simple reason: it’s repetitive. Now, I do not have a disliking predisposition to it (as it fuses two genres I like), but from what I have heard much of it fails to impress me. It’s never bad, it’s just never excellent. Unfortunately, German quintet Neaera and their newest release, Forging the Eclipse, did not change my mind.

The album begins with a relaxing intro featuring some very calm piano over an ambient atmosphere with fading-in choppy static. This pleasantry is a stark contrast to the next song which is a balls-to-the-walls double bas/riff barrage before finishing with some -core chugging. That’s not so bad, is it? No, it isn’t, but the problem begins to develop as you continue your 40 minute journey. And this problem, as I mentioned, is that it’s very repetitive. The riffs fail to distinguish and the abundance of tremolo picking becomes more irritating the longer I listen and the lack of varied drumming (double bass, blast beats and circular/breakdown-y) only enhances the monotony. There’s a few parts where they let up on the uninteresting drumming (“Tyranny of Want”, “Rubikon”) but it’s never enough to save the album from glaring mediocrity. It’s a shame because Benjamin Hilleke, the man behind the vocals, does a pretty good job. It’s mostly mid to high range screams/shrieks with the obligatory growls when the song slows down. He’s far from flawless and original, but fits the style well. Plus, he sounds like the guy from Heaven Shall Burn (which is ironically one of their finer points, too). The best thing this album has to offer is the track “Rubikon” because it doesn’t have that filler feeling. It employs a classical melo-death melody, multiple tempo changes and a sufficient bridge. While not the most amazing song ever, this is how one would go about diversifying and revitalizing Forging the Eclipse. A short, sweet, solid track. I had hopes once I reached it, but sadly, the energy and memorability dissipated as the song ended before transitioning into more of the same.

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but all the melo-death/metalcore bands make their albums sound extremely loud. It’s mostly the drums, too. They are way too loud in the mix and bother the hell out of me. In fairness, it is not as bad as their 2007 release Armamentarium, but it is still obscenely loud. Additionally, the guitars lack any formidable power. Scar Symmetry suffers from this problem on all of their albums, but they make up for it with melodies. Forging the Eclipse fails to deliver on both of these fronts. It’s hard to explain, but trust me when I say there aren’t very many riffs you’ll remember simply because the production prevents it. All in all,  there’s almost nothing I can stand in this aspect. I despise loud production and will continue to despise it for years to come. It’s part of the reason I don’t listen to Heaven Shall Burn.

Jeez, I’ve said their name quite a few times. Maybe that’s part of the problem? I’m not saying Neaera copied anything or that Heaven Shall Burn invented this genre. I just heard them first. And as a result, I find an astonishing amount of similarities. The only way I could tell the difference between these bands is the production, in which I’d have to hand Neaera the victory since their drums sound exponentially better. But I digress. The fact of the matter is that I’ve heard this all before, from them and other bands. There is nothing innovative or well-executed here. It’s 40 minutes of plain, mediocre music, combing the ‘meh’ of both genres with an even bigger ‘meh’ end result that is not only monotonous as fuck, but boring too. It’s all just so… standard.

One could argue that I’m not the right target audience. Maybe, maybe not. I’ve given the genre so many chances and even after listening to this I will still give it chances, but the more I give it the more reluctant I am to follow through. I came into the album with an open mind hoping for at least another solid release to add to my library, but what I got was something much less.

So if I’ve done nothing but pan the album, why am I giving it a 2.5? Because it’s not BAD. It’s just never GOOD. It is simply average. “Rubikon” is solid and “Certitude”, the interlude, is a nice change of pace, but it’s not enough.

Sorry, Neaera. Better luck next time. Releasing 2 albums in 2 years is never a good idea. I would say give it a shot if you’re into this kind of stuff as I clearly cannot grasp the appeal.

Neaera – Forging the Eclipse gets…

2.5/5

– MK

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