Dreaming Neon Black



January 14th, 2005 | 96 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Nevermore - Dreaming Neon Black

Released 1999.
Century Media Records.

Warrel Dane - Vocals
Jim Sheppard - Bass
Jeff Loomis - Guitars
Tim Calvert - Guitars
Van Williams - Drums

I'm sure we can all think of an example of a musician who's had a very hard life, or some horrible experience in their life, that has inspired them to become a musician and share their pain with the world. Nu-metallers will point to Jonathon Davis. Rap fans will be able to give any number of rags-to-riches stories, and any number of songs inspired by the death of a close friend. Older listeners will be able to tell you that Marvin Gaye's message of peace masked the war within his own family, and the domestic abuse he witnessed and suffered at the hands of his father.

Yet, you'll have to go a long way to find a case as unique as Warrell Dane, Nevermore's lead singer.

Dreaming Neon Black is a concept album. It concerns a young man whose long-term girlfriend joins an extremist religious cult. He gradually loses her to this cult, who eventually kidnap her, and kill her. It's a nice story for an album, right" Here's the kicker - it actually happened.

At least, Dane allegedly claims it did. And I, for one, am prepared to believe him, for one reason - the music. Listening to this, I can feel the man's pain, in his voice, and in the lyrics. The band make soundscapes that recreate the dark places Warrell must have visited inside his own mind, and do it while rocking like bastards caught in a swirling storm of thrash, power, and traditional heavy metal that has earned them the tag of 'The Heavy Queensryche'. Whether or not it actually happened is a moot point - whatever happened, this album came out of it. Last I heard, Warrell was also planning a novel of the same story.

Nevermore were formed in 1994, from the ashes of Sanctuary, another thrash metal band. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the dark concepts and moods expressed in their work, they hail from Seattle. Yes, the home of grunge. Grunge fans, incidentally, will find much to love here, particularly those who hail the likes of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. Along with Warrell Dane and Jim Sheppard (ex-Sanctuary), the band contains the classically trained Jeff Loomis; for my money, one of the best in the business; and drummer Van Williams. On this album, they were joined by Tim Calvert of Forbidden; however, he left after this album, and they have recorded as a 4-piece from then onwards. They have toured with Death, Blind Guardian, Opeth, and more recently, labelmates Arch Enemy.

There's a wealth of great things to say about this album. Where to start" The guitars are fantastic, for one thing. Rhythm and lead are handled with equal aplomb. Most of the solo work is taken by Loomis, and if the songs on Dead Heart In A Dead World (the next release) are any evidence, he wrote most of the rhythm parts, too. Don't discount Tim Calvert's input though - he's no slouch. And don't expect it to be full-on driving distortion for the whole album - in fact, both of the album's highlights, for me, come when acoustic guitars are playing. The title track is a masterclass in how to write a metal ballad, and Deconstruction's acoustic solo is sheer genius. The heavy parts are damn heavy, though, courtesy of both guitarists playing 7 string guitars. I should hardly need to mention that this album could teach almost any nu-metal upstart how effective detuning can be (guitars are, by and large, tuned to Eb Standard, yet they sound more like Bb 7-stringers) - hell, it could even teach the Ammott brothers a thing or two. As Arch Enemy and Nevermore are on the same label and have toured together, it probably has.

As I don't play drums or (much) bass, I can't comment on the technical skill of the players. I can only tell you how good they sound - very good. One thing I do do, however, is sing. And my God, can Warrel Dane sing. Possessed of one of metal's strongest, most emotional voices, he's equally at home tackling atmospheric ballads (the title track, All Play Dead) as he is ripping up the hardest of the hard (I Am The Dog, Beyond Within, Poison Godmachine). His voice isn't quite as refined here as it is on Dead Heart In A Dead World, but it's close. His lyrics, too, deserve mention. Nevermore have often been lumped in with Power Metal, but whereas Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Nightwish and their ilk sing lines taken from sci-fi novels, and of romantic longings that sound beamed in from the middle ages (and that's no bad thing), Nevermore sing of truths; of pain, of suffering, of the self-exploration that inevitably comes when you suffer like our protagonist does here. Of course, there's a difference between writing songs called Daddy and screaming that you want to die, and geniunely making the listener feel your pain and identify with you - and here, Nevermore easily fall into the latter of those categories. Not many metal albums geniunely manage this, track after track (metal, in my view, is built upon escapism anyway), but Nevermore do. It somehow makes them oddly untouchable. Even as, in the 80s, Metallica sang of insanity, and the pitfalls and horrors of war, and Slayer spun tales of Nazis, Nevermore somehow just feel that much more real. This aspect of Nevermore has led to many a Queensryche comparison, yet even that doesn't capture it. And besides, Queensryche never have been, and never will be, this heavy.

Originally, I gave this album a 5/5. With hindsight, I realise it doesn't really deserve a perfect rating. Though, to be fair, I hated metal (or thought I did) until I heard this, and it's still one of my favourite metal albums ever, there IS better stuff out there, and people who have tried metal and found it's not for them are unlikely to have their minds changed by this (my problem was I'd never really listened to metal before). Furthermore, if you're looking for an entry into Nevermore's catalogue, Dead Heart In A Dead World is probably a better bet.

With The Genre - 5/5
Outside The Genre - 3.5/5

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user ratings (479)
other reviews of this album
Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
Passionately dark and powerful....

Brendan Schroer (5)
"Sometimes, when I'm alone, I still feel you..."...

Cravinov13 (5)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Distorted Vision
September 13th 2004


Keeping up the good work with the reviews I see. But I downloaded this album and it hasn't really grabbed me yet, and his voice I'm not very fond of either. I just need to spend a bit more time taking it in I think, see if it's as good as you seem to think.

Dark Hero
September 13th 2004


Finnaly this CD has been reviewed, I've been waiting awhile, I guess i'm definetly gonna pick this one up. Great review to.

September 16th 2004


dont you ever spell AMOTT incorrectly ever [U]again!!! other than that!,a great review!!!!!!!!!

September 16th 2004


Album Rating: 3.5

A spelling Nazi who doesn't use capitals or grammar. How strange.

September 16th 2004


Nice review! I'm a very big fan of the band, and Dreaming Neon Black is definetly a great album. :cool: I would recommend "The Death of Passion" and "Poison God Machine" first.

Dark Hero
September 26th 2004


I just bought this album yesterday, I also give it a 5/5, every track is so damn awesome.

January 24th 2005


hell yea, this is an amazing cd. Nothing skippable.
My favorite aside from the sheer genius title track would be lotus eaters and the death of passion. deserving of the 5/5 you gave it.

March 15th 2005


A very superb review, but I have to point out one big incorrect detail. Loomis and Calvert are using six stringers, not seven... which also brings me to another point... not one single song on the album is the guitar key in Bb, it's all in Eb... meaning that their guitars are tuned only a half step down. Suprising how fucking heavy this album is for it only being Eb....

March 17th 2005


btw, I think this is Nevermore's best as well. I also agree forever was kinda.... eh.... I suppose the 7 minutes of silence was intended for the emotional feel as the character commits suicide... VERY AWESOME ALBUM... I think I may review it myself...

June 1st 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Awsome review of the best album of the best band of the 90's, Nevermore.

P.S. Yes Warrel is a human God.This Message Edited On 06.01.05

June 4th 2005


first off i would like to say how many songs in your life have touched you in a way you cant explain?how many songs hav made u grip onto your seat for dear life?how many songs have made you feel sick when nothings even happend to you?well the song "the lotus eaters"did all of the abouve now i have only ever had that happen to me once in my life befor that was in "black "by peal jam now if this band can do this to me imagine how many other people its touched....

September 11th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Some of the riffs on this album just make my skin crawl. The Death Of Passion has some of the most punishing guitar parts I have ever heard. How Nevermore keep consistently writing such intensely powerful music, I'll never understand.

September 12th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

By the way, did anyone notice that the album ends the same way it begins, with that weird pulsing noise and someone saying "He's been waiting for you"? I was falling asleep when I heard this the first time. Thought I heard my closet open like nine times that night.

December 15th 2005


I don't like the vocals to much, but they're starting to grow on me.

February 5th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

I just heard the song "Deconstruction" and wow, it's pretty sweet. I'll start listening to these guys more often.

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

February 5th 2006


[This is my all time favorite album...

February 5th 2006


This is a great album, but it needs some serious grow time. The music is a bit weird...odd chord patterns and whatnot.

February 19th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

How does this compare to This Godless Endeavor? Or vice versa?

February 20th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

This Godless Endeavour is mostly a mediocre re-hash of ideas they perfected here.

February 20th 2006


This totally massacres This Godless's way less safe-seeming in a way. Hard to explain, I guess.

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