Neaera – “Neaera” (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
After blasting out no less than 6 full length releases and being able to place themselves in the German album charts along with countless shows all over Europe and appearances at renowned festivals, Neaera announced their split after a sold out farewell tour in 2015. Now, seven years after their last album, these death metalcore monsters from Münster have returned in this self titled release that pretty much takes off where the band left off. Still with the same members, longtime friend and producer Tristan Hachmeister, along with previous artist Terje Johnsen, the 11 tracks are 100% reflective of Neaera’s award winning trademarks – so all in all the perfect return for their loyal fans! Clearly honed through heavy touring, the sound is reflective of that live setting, intense from the off through the raw screamo of Benjamin Hilleke’s piercing vocals and the heavy, shredding twin guitars of Stefan Keller and Tobias Buck that churn n burn in massive riff unison while equally dexterous individually in delivering the attention getting hooks and most of all, memorable melodies that add a deep and epic touch in just the right place. As you might expect from a seasoned band like this, it’s not just the deep compositions but the cerebral arrangements that make Neaera such a popular band, and on this album, it’s easy to see why that is! Reminiscent of In Flames in its initial twin guitar sound on ‘False Shepherds’, the fast spiraling melodies soon evolve into a sound of their own as Hilleke unloads his screamo and roars before leveling the field with a slow, atom smashing stomping piece guaranteed to bring the headbanger outta you. On ‘Carriers’ its back into overdrive as the double bass drumming overload propels the huge grooves driven by ominous whirring guitars to possess you as Hilleke drills into your brain, but again with some tasteful some epic melodies to shine through, reflecting the quality measure of the band. With a Slayer touch, ‘Rid The Earth Of The Human Virus’ brilliantly melds classic thrash with Scandi melodic death as Hilleke stretches his own pipes amid countless roars and screams while the warbling melodies on ‘Sunset Of Mankind’ definitely stick in the mind along with the hard, chop riffing that both go a long way into making a gargantuan and almost blackish atmosphere on this immensely powerful piece. Ending with ‘Deathless’, epic aspects of At The Gates in an aggressive, chundering metalcore mix add the final exciting touch amid more subtle melodies on this brilliant comeback album that would appeal to anyone into Heaven Shall Burn but equally classic bands like Pantera along with newer groups like Nails.