Review Summary: Probably the one Nevermore album that deserves the position of being the pinnacle of their discography.
Nevemore's quick ascent from a fairly mediocre, albeit talented progressive thrash metal outfit, as heard on their debut, to one of the metal genre's titans ultimately left two albums in a transitional phase from their quicker, more riff oriented original style to the 7 string dominated sound of Dead Heart In A Dead World and later albums. Dreaming Neon Black, the latter, whilst definitely one of the band's strongest achievements, lacks the overall focus of The Politics Of Ecstasy, which possesses songwriting so consistently strong that it deserves the position at the pinnacle of their discography.
Probably the standout feature of The Politics Of Ecstasy are its riffs, which are easily the best in the whole Nevermore discography; brutal power chord riffs, thrash styled runs and the band's signature dissonant arpeggios are present in full force and in a much more cohesive and natural fashion than on their followings works. The drums also add significantly to the heaviness of the release, much like any Nevermore work, as a large number of synchronized bass drum and tremolo picking patterns are present throughout. Meanwhile, Jeff Loomis and Pat O'Brien put in a schizophrenic, maddened style of soloing throughout that demonstrates their technicality to the utmost, fitting the less melodic style of the songs.
Dane's vocals are also at their strongest on this release. On albums like Enemies Of Reality, Dead Heart In A Dead World and This Godless Endeavor, he audibly struggles to hit some of his higher notes reliably and overall doesn't really put in an emotive performance to his full ability outside of a few songs. Here, he sounds much more menacing and powerful, utilizing his full range and reliably staying in tune far better. Whilst not decisively critical in putting it ahead of their other albums, the vocal performance only furthers the strengths of The Politics Of Ecstasy.
The songwriting is also at by far its most consistent stylistically. Whilst there aren't nearly as many ballads or more melodic tracks like The Heart Collector
or Sentient 6
here, the result is an extremely coherent and flowing album that resides firmly within their strongest suit overall. The Seven Tongues Of God
serves as the indicator for the rest of the tracks to come, and uses some of the best riffs in their discography to be probably the best song on the album, whilst Next In Line
and The Tiananmen Man
all dish up some extremely brutal riffs that cement them as some of the most extreme tracks the band have ever done. Additionally, the more ambitious and melodic Passenger
and The Learning
all work effectively in adding variety and a generally epic feel to the proceedings.
The overall cohesion of this album is probably its strongest asset. With a very flowing feel and a consistency of songwriting quality not matched by many other metal albums, The Politics Of Ecstasy outclasses the rest of the Nevermore discography (barely) and serves as one of the best thrash metal albums of the 90s.
The Seven Tongues Of God
Next In Line