Review Summary: Nevermore refine their sound further and unleash it with devastating effect
Let me start by saying that Nevermore are not a love-on-first-listen band. They do not make for good casual listening and you may need to invest some time before the vocals and riffs, which may seem overly heavy or discordant, can grow on you (if you listen to Meshuggah, ignore this and start listening now). However, I was lucky enough to have previously gotten into Nevermore when I picked up this album, and it took my on a ride that I’m not going to forget any time soon.
Nevermore’s modus operandi has always been to smash the listener in the face with Jeff Loomis’ crushing riffs, to slice them in half with razor-sharp solos or to depress them into insanity with Warrel Dane’s operatic, doom-laden voice, and it’s clear from this album that nothing much has changed. The core elements of the band’s sound are still present, but they are more focused, powerful and overall better. There are no real weak links here, only songs that can’t reach the heights of the album’s strongest moments, and the best parts are truly amazing.
The album opens with one of Nevermore’s best-known songs, Born
. It opens with a riff that sounds dark enough to drag a storm behind it, and that is exactly what the rest of the song, and most of the album is; the sound of thunder. The verses of Born feature some of Dane’s most ominous, soul-tearing vocals, as he utilizes the lower frontiers of his vast range (it it five octaves? There are so many that it’s hard to keep count) for once; it’s a pity that he doesn’t do it more often because it works brilliantly here, making Born
both memorable and a highlight.
Almost every other song contributes something memorable to the album, making it seem cohesive and even more powerful as a whole; Final Product
has a brilliant tapped solo, Sentient 6
and Sell My Heart For Stones
both slow down the pace and introduce acoustic guitars, and the former has both an excellent transition into a heavy outro and a soaring chorus. Medicated Nation
is memorable, if for nothing else, for Warrel Dane’s seething line “Did you remember to feed me while I was broken and bleeding?”, which is his defining moment in my mind, The Holocaust of Thought
is a refreshing interlude with slightly greater emphasis on the (otherwise, sadly not very significant) bass and The Psalm of Lydia’s
solos are a force for any aspiring guitarist to reckon with. Finally, A Future Uncertain
starts with an acoustic intro, which develops into one of the album’s most desperate, apocalyptic moments.
However, there are two songs in particular that stand out for me. My Acid Words
is my favourite song on the album; everything is put together perfectly, from the riffs, which are in a league of their own, to the vocal interlude that builds up dramatically, creating a sense of hope amongst the desolation that is wrought by the rest of the album, only to shatter it with a somewhat-unexpected breakdown that spells out to us exactly why 7 string guitars kick ass so much.
The other song is the title track, This Godless Endeavour
. This song is the apex of the whole album, excelling in all of its nine minutes, from the mysterious introduction (“And on the open road...”) to the explosion of furious riffs that takes place throughout most of the song, to one of Dane’s most bitter performances yet (the “consume, conform” section conveys so much vehemence that you can practically feel him spitting it at you through the speakers), to the section when Loomis loses patience with mere riffs and sweeps underneath Dane’s vocals, to the climactic ending, at which “The sky has opened!” brings the twisted machinery of the album to a jarring halt. If there was a closer that fit in with the rest of its album, it was this.
Special mention must also be given to the talents of Van Williams
, whose drumming I have always enjoyed greatly, since it synchronizes very well with the guitars, and Steve Smyth
, whose rhythm guitar skills compliment Loomis perfectly. Bassist Jim Sheppard
is not particularly noticeable when compared to the rest of his bandmates, but since he wrote The Holocaust of Thought
, it’s fair to say that his contribution to the album is noteworthy.
This album is not without weaknesses. The most obvious one is Bittersweet Feast
, which has very little to offer the album in perspective of the quality that surrounds it. There is the aforementioned flaw of inaudible bass, and – despite the acoustics in four songs and the use of an interlude song – the album still feels like it lacks variety slightly, especially since it is slightly more monotonous than albums like Dead Heart in a Dead World
. Other than that, it is pure win, I totally recommend this.
Incredible riffs and solos
Lack of variety
The bass is too low in the mix
It’s an acquired taste
1. My Acid Words
2. This Godless Endeavor
3. Sentient 6
4. Final Product