A couple of years ago, "The Rising Tide of Oblivion" would have sounded a lot better to me. The metalcore competition was less intense back then. Germany's NEAERA are in many ways the quintessential metalcore band, in this case a thrashy up-tempo album with sporadic breakdowns, screechy lead vocals that are switched up with the occasional death growl, and the melodic Swedish-influenced guitar harmonies of Tobias Buck and Stefan Keller. Drummer Sebastian Heldt has got quick feet and a knack for well-timed fills too. Hey, there's nothing lowly about any of it, there just isn't anything here to grab my attention or make me remember this album a month from now.
That I couldn't point to a standout track doesn't mean that any of the songs are sub-par, only that none of them are especially noteworthy. Except for the odd pace change in mid-song, pinches of compositional spice thrown about, and a mellow album-closing instrumental ("The Last Silence"), several tracks into it and you've basically heard the entire album. Kudos to Andy Classen for a production that gives everything a razor sharp feel and accentuates the strong playing of Buck and Keller.
I'm not looking for NEAERA to reinvent the wheel or dazzle me with cutting-edge song craft, and it's not as though I'd turn my nose up if someone tossed this one into the CD player at a friendly gathering. The rip-and-pummel factor is adequate, the boys hit hard and fast, and I'd guess the live performance is pit-worthy. I just need a reason to choose "The Rising Tide of Oblivion" over the hundreds of similar albums out there when I'm in the mood for lacerating metalcore. NEAERA hasn't given me one.