Just before I begin the review, I would like to point out some genre irks. Nevermore are not a power metal band. Guitarist Jeff Loomis even said so himself: People label us power metal just because we have an actual singer [in vocalist Warrel Dane]. We are a straight-up American heavy metal band. Don't come into my review and start arguing about genre classification, either.
Nevermore are powerful. Powerful, operatic vocals, heavy-ass riffs, talent behind the kit, and even audible bass. Their latest recording, This Godless Endeavor, was released after the mainstream and disappointing Enemies of Reality, which lacked epicness, power and presence. I mean, I essentially listen to Nevermore for the epic backdrop that they set. Just because the group's last album was somewhat mediocre doesn't mean that this one has to follow in that trend. The new effort is epic, heavy, operatic and TALENTED. The addition of session guitarist Steve Smyth is quite a boon, as he adds a new thrashy depth to the band. But on to the different instruments:
Vocals: Warrel Dane: Warrel Dane's tortured howls have gained more melody with the arrival of TGE. He has quite the tortured background (see the concept of 1999's Dreaming Neon Black) and his singing style shows it. He often goes off-key purposely, and it gives the music an extra edge. Of course, the aforementioned talent shines through in Mr. Dane. As well as being the best vocalist in modern metal (IMO), he is one of the greatest lyricists as well. On heavy, epic, melancholy songs like “A Future Uncertain and Final Product, his lyrics are pointed, intelligent and somewhat rebellious: To be green, in this beautiful hour of envy so divine, to be pure, to let chance for your infinite design. Let the seed awakening begin again. (Taken from A Future Uncertain) The media loves the latest tragic suicide; they exploit it, then package it, then profit from the people who died." (taken from Final Product) His voice can also create a fantastic atmosphere, and such an atmosphere is showcased in the opening and closing tracks of this masterpiece of the album.
Guitars: Jeff Loomis and Steve Smyth: Good God, I could go on forever about the guitar work on this album. It is fantastic in every aspect. On every last song, Jeff and Steve churn out crushing riffs, high-flying solos, and tragic clean parts. A song that has all of the above is the title track, but I'll get to that song later. Loomis is the better guitarist, both in riffs and solos, but Smyth has his moments on the album. This opus has some of the greatest sweep-picking solos I have heard in my short life. I've listened to a lot of virtuosic music, but no one can touch these guys. The solos are good, they make me cry. *
Bass: Jim Sheppard: What's there to say? Nevermore are modern metal. The bass is rarely audible, save one or two tracks that he assisted in the writing process. He obviously is a proficient bassist, and it would be good to see the band use that to their advantage more than they do.
Drums: Van Williams: He's fond of his double bass, and his ride, that's for sure. In every song, he uses both at the same time. It's a damn good thing that they fit in and sound so good, or else this wouldn't be a masterpiece. He often follows the guitar lines with his snare or bass, as well. This is a common technique used in metal, but he executes it to perfection.&
The Good: If this was a golf game, the vocals would be ten strokes under par. Mr. Warrel Dane is the Tiger Woods of current heavy music vocalists, ranging from the lowest of growls to operatic wails. The guitarists are two of the greatest of all time, and Jeff Loomis probably is the singular greatest guitarist ever. In the interlude The Holocaust of Thought," Jim Sheppard bass shines through (because he wrote it) and Van Williams is a beast./font> Also, there are no bad songs at all on TGE. Each track is pure gold. How Nevermore put out excellent music so consistently is beyond me.
Interesting. I love this album to death, but I disagree with just about everything you said.
Dane is definitely a great singer. You said he intentionally goes off key, but I didn't detect any moments where he was off. His voice was fluent and precise throughout the entire album. His lyrics, while good, are far from the best metal lyrics. He has a very straightforward approach and often takes on societal issues, but lacks the deep imagery, borderline unusual spirituality that many metal lyricists are able to portray.
The guitarists are of course incredible. Loomis and Smyth know how to write a good riff, and they have the solos to match. I love how they can produce heavy moments like Final Product or Psalm of Lydia, but turn around and create some kind of serene flowing melody, such as Born. Their solos are perfect all across the album, not enough can be said about them.
Sheppard and Williams are not at all lacking or lost in the mix as you described them. I've heard first-hand accounts of how Van Williams has serves as a personal inspiration to aspiring drummers. His playing is extremely solid, and manages to carry the heaviest percussive moments as well as highlight some lighter touches. Sheppard doesn't have any solos like Loomis or Smyth, but his bass is an essential part of the low end that the guitars bear. Without the combination of the essential three instruments, none of their music would pack the powerful punch that it did on this album.
Part III – sorry everyone, I seem to have a lot to say lately
Musically, this is extremely well written and new, but not without flaws. Some songs such as Sentient 6 seem out of place with such a lighter touch and altogether different theme. I like all of the old stuff I've heard, which is everything except their debut. I don't perceive any of it to be as monotonous as people say. This album along with Dreaming Neon Black stand as their definite best, but I feel their material doesn't cover such an extreme range of value that most would attest to.
By the way, if it you feel that the review is a perfect 5, then it stands to reason that your percentage should be 100. Anything less wouldn't deserve the perfect rating you gave it above.
[QUOTE=Sepstrup]I don't think an album has to be 100% to be a 5/5. That would mean that every song had to be a 5/5, wouldn't it? If so, I've never heard a 5/5 album...[/QUOTE]
Yes. That's exactly why 5/5 ratings should be extremely rare.
Basically everything. It's just such a bad album by Nevermore's standards, and even if you don't judge it against their past work it's still nothing more than average. Everything that made them great - the passion and range in Dane's voice, their sense of melody, Loomis' invention, their way around a catchy hook, their ability to switch things up and stop the album from becoming boring - has either diminished or flat-out disappeared since Dead Heart In A Dead World. Even their lyrics, which were never stellar, have got worse.
I know I'm a lone voice going against the grain here, and that everyone else loves this record, but.....I mean, the acclaim for this just baffles me.
Interesting. I've heard all of their albums except their first, and this one seems to have all of those things you said it lacked. I rank this right up next to DNB as their best. By Nevermore's standards it's an incredible album, and by metal standards in general it seemed even better. It sounds like they've finally gotten their sound really refined and with clear production that older albums lacked.
[QUOTE=Mike]Ben, Sentient 6 is a GREAT addition to the album. One of my favorite ballads by the band...what makes you think it is out of place?[/QUOTE]
It's not bad, but I like this album mainly for the heavier songs, and the way Sentient 6 comes in with a very softer feel just doesn't quite fit what I see in the record. There's nothing wrong with it, it just seems odd to me.