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Rating explanation

23 tablatures for Nevermore


Nevermore - s/t (6/10) - USA - 1995

Genre: Thrash Metal / Groove Metal
Label: Century Media
Playing time: 42:55
Band homepage: Nevermore

Tracklist:

  1. What Tomorrow Knows
  2. C.B.F.
  3. The Sanity Assassin
  4. Garden Of Gray
  5. Sea Of Possibilities
  6. The Hurting Words
  7. Timothy Leary
  8. Godmoney

There is a longstanding misconception regarding NEVERMORE’S overlooked and somewhat underrated self-titled debut, and that is that it is some sort of a Power Metal album that explores new territory. Both of these assertions speak to a general lack of knowledge on the differing sub-genres of Metal at large, either on the part of the media, or more likely on the part of their obsessive fan base. Perhaps this mistake could be attributed to the fact that Warrel Dane hasn’t fully ripped his own voice apart and still carries some of the majestic qualities of his SANCTUARY days, but Power Metal is not the only genre out there staking a claim to wide ranged, Geoff Tate oriented singers. But regardless of the slight nuances separating this from more overt Groove outfits like MACHINE HEAD and PANTERA, more educated ears will quickly recognize this as being a full fledged half-Thrash/Groove Metal album that has some slight tendencies towards “Parallels” era FATES WARNING, and that is precisely how it should be approached.

 

Within the context of being a half-Thrash album, “Nevermore” does a fairly decent job at maintaining enough of the stylistic characteristics of Thrash to avoid becoming the Grungy mess that “Burn My Eyes” tended towards. The riff work tends to fall somewhere between a slowed down version of “Souls Of Black” meets a meandering “Into The Mirror Black”. At times it manages to really cook and reminisces of better days for Metal, while at others it seems unable to make up its own mind on where it wants to go. A prime example of the latter all but smacks the listener right in the face in “What Tomorrow Knows”, which essentially pounds the same riff over and over for about 80% of its duration, yet somehow manages to suggest that something more is going to come and yet never does. It listens largely like a musical narrative, and is all but content to simply plod along and let the singer tell the story, and unfortunately Dane is beginning to show signs of that revolting tough guy character that would plunge this band’s next 3 offerings right into the toilet.

 

As this album unfolds, it becomes pretty evident that there are two versions of this band that are at war with each other. One of them is the NEVERMORE that everyone is more familiar with, consisting of stagnant chug riffs and lighter atmospheric interludes that attempt to compensate for themselves with frequent and often abrupt changeups. This can be observed on “C.B.F.” and “Sea Of Possibilities”, but contains an element of charm in that they are saturated with lead guitar acrobatics and contain elements of Warrel’s metallic philosopher with a powerful falsetto vocal character. The other NEVERMORE is the more traditionally oriented one with elements held over from SANCTUARY, and the one that would ultimately disappear after this album. It is typified in the catchy and mid-tempo Thrasher “Garden Of Gray”, as well as the twisted yet methodical “Godmoney”, both of which are pretty far removed from either the glory of the Bay Area scene, or the blazing majesty of Speed Metal/USPM bands such as AGENT STEEL or HELSTAR, but are still fairly accessible to anyone who likes either of those two schools of Metal. This duality seems largely due to the musical disconnect between 1992 and 1994, of which these two songs feel into the former year, while much of the rest of this album popped during the latter. Nonetheless, elements of both eras of the band’s independent days intermingle with each other and hint at an incremental changeover away from Warrel and Jim’s 80s roots.

 

While definitely not a bad album, this clearly suffers from a general lack of consistency, and ultimately fails at maintaining the necessary balance between virtuosity and musicality that made SANCTUARY a superior band. There are a couple of exceptional moments on here and a fair share of good ones, but unfortunately the sound tends to straddle the 80s to 90s musical divide with a slight preference to the latter, and it shows in the lackluster songwriting. It fails at being fun and catchy the way that “Cowboys From Hell” was, and doesn’t dedicate itself enough to the slight Progressive Metal ideals it flirts with at times to dazzle the ears into that intellectual euphoria that “Perfect Symmetry” and “Images And Words” accomplishes. It functions well as an occasional listen, but doesn’t lend itself to classic status and as something worthy of throwing the horns in the hair over while in public.

(Online May 28, 2010)

Jonathan Smith



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