NEVERMORE - Nevermore (CENTURY MEDIA - CD 1995)
I must say that I don’t really listen to heavy metal too much (and when I do, then they’re only the true classics LPs and bands like Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate / King Diamond, Running Wild or Metallica) and even less I listen to power metal. I mention these styles, as Nevermore is always described as groovy / power / heavy metal band, with strong progressive touch. And usually I wouldn’t even bother to check such band out, if I already didn’t know that such description doesn’t really give a justice to Nevermore, as music wise they’re just far different and more aggressive than the usual band of this sort. You know, personally seeing such description I would think about Savatage. But Nevermore is different and way more interesting, to the point that even myself, a fan of more extreme styles of metal, finds their music as very appealing and exciting. Where does the secret lay? Well, first of all I must mention Warrel Dane, the vocalist. His way of singing is far more interesting than the usual heavy metal vocalist. When I hear him I have a feeling like this is the voice of madman, some lunatic. This vocalist is very strong and charismatic, sometimes he screams like crazy, other time he operates with more calm, tranquil voice… It is very varied and always very emotional, what fits the music perfectly. Speaking of which… Nevermore is definitely more aggressive and heavier than the usual power / heavy metal band and their riffs sometimes could even match the riffs of technical thrash and death metal bands (especially Death and Chuck’s Control Denied – which I think was hugely influenced by Nevermore) and this is also one of the main reasons, why I like their music so much. There are many twisted, technical fragments, some very unusual patterns here and there, what obviously there is a great work done by the guitar maestro Jeff Loomis. His playing is just phenomenal and I love many riffs and leads he plays. The whole playing is very modern metal, maybe even it may be similar to bands like Pantera and Machine Head on “Burn Their Eyes” LP, but for me Nevermore is just better and more interesting.
So, having two such exceptional musicians on the boards like Dane and Loomis (not to forget about great drumming by Van Williams and Mark Arrington, who play on the album’s half of the songs each) Nevermore became very unique and original band. “Nevermore” is their 1995 debut full length album and I must say that I like it ever since I have heard it for the first time and till today it belongs to my favourite Nevermore albums (thanks Steve for introducing it to me back in 2004!). The songwriting on it is just exceptional and “Nevermore” contains some of the most memorable and best songs which this band has composed. Already the first four songs – one after another – are like a great collection of some of my favourite Nevermore tunes. “What Tomorrow Knows” is such a phenomenal heavy song, with great vocal passages (which are the main strength of this track) and catchy, simple, groovy riffing… It is one of the most memorable songs of the album for sure. Then we have “C.B.F.” (which belongs to the most aggressive and also challenging – due to its technique and twisted parts - songs of the album) and finally the music leads us to two great masterpieces “The Sanity Assassin” and “Garden of Gray” – both have some outstanding melodic and calm passages, both have truly remarkable and memorable choruses and are just great anthems of such progressive, groovy heavy / thrash metal. These songs are epic half ballads, but they won’t give you time to breath, as so much is happening in them that you just swallow these sounds with your whole heart and mind, capturing their emotions fully. And maybe because these songs were so damn awesome I always feel like “Sea of Possibilities” doesn’t reach that quality so much, even though I still like it. Anyway, this is my least favourite track from the album, even if it also is the fastest and most aggressive song. Further on we have another highlight and another half ballad “The Hurting Words”. One more song is worth being mention and it is “Timothy Leary”. And that’s pretty much it.
OK, something more I need to say is that I have a 2006 Century Media CD reissue of “Nevermore” and it is very interesting as not only the booklet has some liner notes, where Warrel and Jeff speak about the times of recording the album, but more so the CD contains a strong dose of bonus tracks, which make it even more exceptional. While the original edition had just eight songs, here we have five bonus tracks, including a Japan only song “The System is Failing” as well as four songs from the 1992 “Utopia” demo. I do admit that these songs are not as good as the main part of the album – “The System is Failing” certainly sounds like an out take and doesn’t reach the quality of “Nevermore”, while the demo songs are just weak… The riffing in them is not that good, even Warrel’s vocals sometimes annoy me, as he sings some false notes here and there… but anyway, it is nice addition to the whole album, as this way we can hear what the beginnings of Nevermore were like and more so, it is also good that those Japs don’t have the monopoly for exclusive songs anymore and “The System is Failing” can finally be heard also on the European edition of the album.
Standout tracks: “What Tomorrow Knows”, “The Sanity Assassin”, “Garden of Gray”, “The Hurting Words”
Final rate: 85/100