Portugal's Neoplasmah has actually been around for quite a while. They originally formed back in 1997 under the name Systematic Collision, a Death Metal and Grindcore operation that issued two demos before changing their name in 2000. A few years later, this technical version of the band released their Promo CD 2003 demo, which was followed up in 2004 with their debut full-length Sidereal Passage through Dark Music Productions. Sometime after its release the group called it a day, the members branching out with a number of other local bands such as Grog, The Firstborn, and Carnificina just to name a few. By 2012, after eight years of silence, Neoplasmah reactivated as a five-piece Blackened Death Metal group and now brings us their long overdue follow-up effort Auguring the Dusk of a New Era. But has the wait been worth it, or is this long overdue follow-up a waste of time?

Well, after all this time, its clear the band as a whole haven't lost their technical prowess within the blackened or grinding veils they choose to adorn. "Auguring the Dark of a New Era" establishes a strong Middle Eastern vibe to their music at times, nicely aided by clean female singing that appears from time to time when the music is at its most complex. Shades of bands like Melechesh can easily be felt in the catchy mid-tempo Black Metal grooves that give way to precise blistering brutality or well timed blast beats that amplify the aggression that the kind of hushed raspy vocals work with, but don't necessarily play into all that much.

"Ravishing Theatre of Chaos" finds additional enthusiasm all around, focusing more on the Technical Death Metal aspect with a good amount of eerie hooks strewn about. But, for the most part, this one relies more on blasting drums with tight guitar work to keep up the pace. While it does lead to an aggressive performance, there are times where the bass really grabs your attention, eventually taking charge during the Obscura-like passage prior to the stunning melodic bit around the four minute mark that is as flawlessly performed as it is epic.

While the band's blackened traits are commendable, the far more aggressive and often opus-grade material is really where they shine. "Storm Vortices of Neoplasmah" starts off with some decent complexities that can take on a bit of a futuristic outer shell before those base riffs begin to drone on. Eventually there's a little more depth to them, not to mention a renewed intensity that only strengthens the impact come the half-way point. But, what sticks out the most is the powerful Neoclasical guitar solo at the end that makes the already stunning performance all the more grand. Meanwhile there's the tamer, though still as abrasive and, at times, even incredibly dismal "Absorbed in Perpetual Torture". The steady machine gun pace of the bass kicks keeps the tension alive as the track continues to grow on a vibrantly technical spectrum that wraps things up in the most appropriate solos possible. While in many ways nearly the polar opposite of the aforementioned composition, this one is just as memorable.

This may only be Neoplasmah's second full-length album, but it's one hell of a ride from start to finish. Black Metal tendencies mixed with some Grindcore blasting and highly technical Death Metal riffing works perfectly to create a pulse pounding opus that is hindered only by the fairly tame raspy vocals that, while suiting for some tracks, could use a little more energy from time to time. Auguring the Dusk of a New Era is guaranteed to become one of the underground's best kept secrets thanks to it being limited to only five hundred pressed digipack copies. So, if you're looking for a truly punishing experience as grand as it is over-the-top, this is one made specifically for you, but only for a very limited time.

Review originally composed for Apoch's Metal Review.