Review Summary: Passionately dark and powerful.
Music which centers around the lamenting of a loved one isn't anything new or different, even for a whole album. Such concepts were old even before instrumental compositions came to graze society's ears. Sitting down to listen to an album like Dreaming Neon Black
could then initially be argued as a tiring test. Toss in an above-average runtime with a number of slower, almost ballad-esque tracks, and one might be less inclined to hear what said album offers. That is, until the music is given a chance.
The specific tale at-hand in Dreaming Neon Black
details a man who's lost his girlfriend, exposing his harsh thoughts and the effects such a loss have on him. Again, this doesn't sound unfamiliar, even after considering the proclamation that this actually happened to vocalist Warrel Dane. However, any pre-exposed thoughts are cast aside even before "Ophidian" transitions to the first full track.
Nevermore had already established their genre-mixing sound between their self-titled debut and the effectively harsh The Politics of Ecstasy
. Pinpointing the group's genre has kept many listeners scratching their heads. Progressive elements are certainly present, if on the less prominent side, while a more contemporary thrash sound seems most embedded into the music. The Politics of Ecstasy
was all the band needed to justify tackling serious subject matters, and Dreaming Neon Black
proved they could handle an album backed by somber, melancholy themes as well.
We're given a sufficient amount of time in which Nevermore retain the sound found in their previous albums, peaked by fast, throbbing points such as "The Fault of the Flesh" and "Poison Godmachine." Yet just as much time is dedicated to slower songs, and these happen to be the album's best moments. The title track and "Deconstruction," both of which play back-to-back, have their heavier sections, but show a surprisingly painful and tortured voice. Along with "The Lotus Eaters," these become so memorable and powerful thanks to Warrel Dane demonstrating his true vocal talents. The man can certainly yell and shout to help carry the hard songs, but it's his unique singing pitch, along with the superbly implemented themes, that lends this album its identity.
This isn't to say that the rest of the band fall behind. In fact, everyone is given a perfect amount of exposure; from Loomis and Calvert's head-throbbing riffs and solos, to Sheppard and Williams' pulsating combination of bass and drums, respectively. It's hard to go through the album even once without admiring what Nevermore can craft and pull off together. Few albums can be described as nearly this well-rounded and, most importantly, passionately played.
Dreaming Neon Black
is an album that's easy to admire simply for the incredible blend of heavier and softer (though still striking) moments; both of which are utilized to terrific effect. What's unfortunate is that the album has rarely seen even a single track performed live and, thus, it's become overlooked even in the band's relatively small catalogue. Although it might be challenging to call certain albums better than others, which Nevermore have bestowed us with, Dreaming Neon Black
is one that should come immediately to mind for high regards.