Review Summary: A brilliant EP and a satisfying listen.Nevermore
consistently put out crushing albums. It's no wonder why when you look at the two main songwriting contributors Jeff Loomis and Warrel Dane. Listen to this album and you can see how well the two work together compositionally. I could go on for at least three or four paragraphs about why Jeff Loomis is probably the saviour of modern metal guitar playing. His playing makes Nevermore a force to be reckoned with. Warrel Dane on the other hand delivers thoughtful lyrics, unique (and at times operatic) vocals, and a wide palette of sonic emotions to the table.
Jeff Loomis - Guitars
Warrel Dane - Vocals
Jim Sheppard - Bass
Van Williams - Drums
Pat O'Brien - Guitars
is Nevermore's 2nd release, clocking in at around 26 minutes. It follows their eponymous debut album and was released shortly before their 2nd full-length, The Politics of Ecstasy
It's obvious as soon as [i]Optimist or Pessimist[i] kicks in that Jeff Loomis can write a great riff. Warrel enters with some aggressive vocals, and it takes all of about 10 seconds for Jeff to rip out the first of many incredible solos. I personally enjoy every song on this EP, but Optimist or Pessimist
is hands-down the catchiest of the five. It's also the foundation for a well written melodic interlude in between choruses. The main solo is an album highlight and one of Loomis' best. Lyrically the song deals with the human perspective of the world.
The Optimist understands why the world's gone down the drain
The Pessimist never bends, constricting thoughts in vain
From the Pessimist's point of view, there's nothing we can do
As I paint this picture grey and taste the pain, I'll play the Optimist
is less heavy, but not to be underestimated. I would venture to say that it strikes the perfect balance between melodic (don't expect any Gothenburg crap to here though) and heavy. My aim is not to throw the word melodic around, but it's a fitting way to describe a lot of what you'll be hearing on In Memory
. As usual, Loomis makes room for another extraordinary solo. I'm aware of the thin line between critic and fanboy as well as the fact that I'm probably walking it, but Loomis and Dane's compositional talent is praiseworthy to say the least. The title track follows with a slow start and soft vocals as well as some very interesting vocal harmonies. Guitarists Jeff and Pat kick off the heavier portion of the song with my personal favorite riff of the entire EP.
I realize that up to this point I haven't described the rest of the band's performance, but Jim Sheppard's standout (and practically the only audible) bassline occurs during Silent Hedges/Double Dare
which isn't saying much. Van Williams is a capable drummer, however he tends to play it safe for the most part. Pat O'Brien of Cannibal Corpse
fame is the second guitarist, and while he has a reputation of high technical prowess he fails to distinguish himself from Jeff Loomis on this album.
Everyone who has heard the Bauhaus
cover/medley Silent Hedges/Double Dare
will agree it's not as memorable as the other four tracks, but I personally enjoy it quite a bit. With a little patience it may grow on the listener as it has myself. On the positive side it's a change of mood, as it has a slower and darker undertone than the rest of the songs. The Sorrowed Man
is the closing track, featuring an outstanding vocal performance. Jeff's slow solo over a somber acoustic background makes this song a bit moody and finishes things up on a mellow note.
Overall, In Memory
is one of Nevermore's most diverse releases as it manages to mix (not overly) melodic tendencies with thrashy arrangements that steer away from the band's later groove-oriented material.