Review Summary: Ambitious and often brilliant, a lack of consistency and clarity holds back Neogenesis from being a truly excellent album.
Swedish death/thrash band Diabolical have been operating since the 90s, but their first success came from 2008's enjoyable Gallery Of Bleeding Art album, which showcased the band's excellent riff writing capacity and hinted at their more atmospheric leanings that were later showcased on their extremely accessible Ars Vitae EP in 2011. With their sound becoming less riff based and more melodic, it was clear their next effort would likely perpetuate that line further. Neogenesis does this to an extent, but with a bigger emphasis on epic atmospheres and dissonance akin to a lot of symphonic death metal.
This shift in sound sees the arrival of occasional choral sections and more atmospheric lead work and pacing. The riffs also have become less focused on tremolo picked sections, with chordal riffs akin to a lot of black metal making up the bulk of the songs, which broadens the sound well and blends nicely with the more dissonant leads. However, an issue that is most present here than ever is the almost excessive intensity of a lot of the tracks, which is hampered even further by a fairly cluttered production job where a lot of the instruments take up the same spot in the mid range. This lack of clarity makes it hard to make out some of the details the band evidently put quite a lot of work into. Additionally, the bass is practically inaudible, giving the album a lacking bottom end.
The songwriting, whilst strong at several points of the album, is another weakpoint. The opening songs build momentum quickly and retain it well as they expand and progress, but there are points where certain progressions get cut short, which isn't critical but does sap some of the potential of the songs. Additionally, the large number of slower, mid paced cuts in the middle of the album makes it drag somewhat; by the album highlight Wolves' Choir
, the slack has been picked up, and the closer The Age To Come
works well as an epic finisher. Also, whilst the songs in the middle section may drag, they are all fairly strong on their own terms, albeit not as powerful as the openers Into Oblivion
, and the closing songs.
Whilst the pacing across the record is somewhat awkward, the impressive scope of the songs (complete with a novella accompanying the album) and the blistering power of the album's highlights contributes to making this one of the many solid death metal albums of 2013. However, there is clearly a lot of untapped potential to be unleashed on future works.