Review Summary: "Sometimes, when I'm alone, I still feel you..."
Even more than any other Nevermore record, Dreaming Neon Black
always seemed to have a darkness and intensity that was all its own. This is some potent, dense thrash that fully revels in its progressive nature, as well as the twisted story the late Warrel Dane weaves along the way. The concept, according to Dane himself, deals with a man who gradually succumbs to insanity after he loses his lover to a religious cult. Eventually this Insanity becomes all sorts of various tragedies surrounding our main character. Sounds happy, right" Believe me, though, this stuff is the perfect base for the incredibly creepy and depressing moods the music itself creates. You really feel the conviction of the band right from the opening thrasher (aside from the intro) "Beyond Within," which seamlessly blends the intense drive of Jeff Loomis' riffing with a variety of tempo shifts for every mood the song wants to convey. And there are several; from one song alone, we get rage, desperation, anxiety, and futility all in this track. Simply put, this is the most emotional album Nevermore ever put out.
And the greatest thing about this is that there's so much sincerity and even beauty lurking in the record's uninviting outer shell. If I were to pick Dreaming Neon Black
's centerpiece in this regard, it's definitely the bleak title track. This is one of the rare ballads we get to hear from the band, and the doomy chorus constantly gives off the feeling of drowning in Dane's personal abyss. Even the faster numbers on the album usually exhibit some interesting experiments that further the atmosphere, such as the wonderful classical guitar leads that kick off "No More Will" or the bizarrely off-kilter rhythms and atonal guitar chugs that define how uncomfortable the mood of "The Death of Passion" is. Even more interesting are the softer segments, such as the strange note-bending in "All Play Dead" or the minimalist clean guitar that closes the album with "Forever." More traditional Nevermore numbers come in the form of the straightforward melodic thrash of "I Am the Dog" and the intricately performed media-bashing prog/thrash combo heard in "Poison Godmachine." But even then, these still serve to advance the story and inject their own form of energy into a deeply affecting piece of metal music. Dreaming Neon Black
is the most consistent Nevermore album from a songwriting standpoint, and it also happens be the most emotionally resonant one at the same time. How much more could you want out of one of the most impressive metal bands of both the 90s and 2000s"
~Rest in peace, Warrel Dane. 1961-2017~