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There are times when ambition becomes the enemy of goodness, where intent finds itself lost in a blackened haze, unable to realize a coherent result. This eventuality tends to befall bands on the progressive side of the equation, in contrast to other subsets of metal music that will tend more towards laziness or apathy draining the consequence of its power. Naturally in order to fully understand such failures, which is generally reserved for bored and depressing weekend masochists like myself, it is necessary to consider the intention behind the madness, and the intent behind Nevermore's often lauded third studio LP Dreaming Neon Black is a confused one based in modern expressionism, and perhaps a bizarre marriage of egoism and altruism. It is something of a stand alone affair in that it is lyrically more confessional rather than professional or otherwise steeped in protestation, hence the unique attachment that many of Nevermore's core fan base tends to hold to it. But ultimately, the sad little world that this album lives in is one that is dominated by Warrel Dane, hence its inevitable downfall.
This shouldn't be meant to suggest that Dane is a talentless hack that has latched onto a collection of superior musicians, though it is perhaps understandable why some might draw that conclusion. The problem is more a lack of focus rather than of ability, and it shows throughout his overly dramatic and disjointed ravings that paint over every song like a dulling mixture of gray acrylics over top a modern yet vivid illustration. The surrounding music, in contrast to any other album in Nevermore's discography, seems to cater slavishly to the whims of the vocals, which has the dual effect of shortening an otherwise comparable songwriting structure that made The Politics Of Ecstasy an drab, overlong fit of hypnotic patterns, but still coming off as similarly bereft of any sense of cadence or flow. Pounding groove sections and occasional thrashing fits of glory are cut off at the center and replaced with serene melodic interludes that would be effective had they come with some form of transition and were not steeped in rambling, dissonant vocalizations. To put it simply, Dane's vocals are a torturous affair throughout this album, but they grate all the more when further exposed.
Nevertheless, there are a few isolated songs woven into this chaotic mixture of melodrama and unfocused rage that are a bit more consistent and take the few isolated good ideas found on The Politics Of Ecstasy (and there were very few) and amplify them. "The Fault Of The Flesh" goes easy on the progressive quirks and avoids randomly placed confessional balladry for a consistent fit of rage, running off of a generally fast and biting riff set and mechanistic rhythm section, and surprisingly Warrel's agitated snarls manage to fit in with the arrangement rather than drown it out. "Poison Godmachine" opts for a similarly furious road, and ratchets up the technical factor a bit with a more frenzied riff set and a consistently driving feel from the drums. Even the opening number "Beyond Within", which does get bogged down in a couple of acoustic interludes, manages a respectable showing of driving heaviness and a vocal performance that is generally short of terrible. It's just a bit sad that the rest of this album opts for a far more musically convoluted approach, not to mention how Dane contorts his voice into various maddening forms that defy comprehensibility.
It can't be stressed enough that Nevermore's persistent issues are not ones of ability, but more of actualization, and this is best understood when measuring the musical product against its backstory. A lot has been said, is being said, and will continue to be said about the sympathetic character of Warrel Dane's past experiences with religion and how it shapes his lyrics, and I'm not one to knock anybody who loses loved ones to sinister busybodies. The approach taken in response to this, however, is ineffectual and comes off as a directionless diffusion of rage into despair rather than a clear statement. This was obviously Dane's intent, as he had described the fictional yet quasi-autobiographical concept of this album as a sort of modern take on Romeo and Juliet, with an emphasis on Romeo's descent into madness conveyed through vocalizations comparable to early 20th century German avant-garde opera and modern, unstructured poetry. The problem is, a person has to suspend sanity in order to gain any satisfaction from the performance itself, hence the ironic cult-like attachment that many have developed for this album. If about 85% of the vocal tracks were erased from the equation, and the lyrics simply became an accompanying set of poems describing the game of instrumental sections, this album would be moderately bearable, though still quite disjointed.
This is not an album that promises enjoyment on a musical level, even when taking into account the few moments of clarity, the technical grandeur of Jeff Loomis' and Tim Calvert's isolated solo sections, and the steady constancy and occasional technical flair of the surprisingly restrained rhythm section (relative to previous and subsequent albums). It's appeal lay almost solely in the message that it seeks to convey, and it is one with a fair degree of accessibility given the target audience, but one that is easily lost in the piss poor execution of the lyricist in voicing his tale of woe. If defeating the purpose was an actual contest, Nevermore has proven themselves among the stiffest of competitors, which makes for a rather disturbing visual given the number of sycophants out there leering over said emperor in his wrinkly, blemish ridden birthday suit.
Now I can't really say that I've been a huge fan of these guys as their career has been somewhat inconsistent on the whole, but man this record just destroys and has an eerie aura of absolute despair and horrifying desolation that is seriously almost impossible to find in any of the other similar bands out there. Listen to the epic yet mournful title track for one of the best blends of soulful acoustic picking and heavy riffs to boot. Not to mention some of Warrel's most emotional and hard-hitting vocal lines in the history of the band. The riffs are towering monoliths of pain and brutality in the most epic classic mix ever plus the solos and leads are a taste blend of both atonal and melodic sensibilities with some masterful phrasing from one of the most underrated guitar gods out there. Also you may not be a fan of Warrel Dane's voice at all (it all does boil down to personal tastes after all not to mention his voice is quite the acquired taste) but there's no way in hell you can deny the amount of talent and emotion he has poured out in literally every song with his clean singing, snarls and pained croons. But the arguable star of the album is Jeff Loomis, simply killing it as far as the ungodly technical riffing is concerned. Listen to "The Death Of Passion", "Poison Godmachine" and "I Am The God" (what a goddamn intro and build-up) to see what I'm talking about. This guys is just sick, fusing accessibility, blistering technicality and brutality into each of the riffs and progressions with utmost ease pretty much every time. "All Play Dead" is one of the more catchier songs here with a chorus that's bound to get stuck in your head along with a cracker of a solo.
The overall theme/concept of the album as most of you I'm assuming already know, is the story of Warrel Dane's slow descent into depression and thoughts of suicide after his girlfriend leaves him to join a cult. You can literally feel his pain and anguish in every vocal line. The gut-wretching ballad "Forever" is enough of a testament to that fact alone and a perfect way to close the album. Hell he even sings the words "Dreaming Neon Black" just before the song fades out. I mean look at the damn album art and tell me if the theme is not obviously evident right there. Make no mistake, even though this may be Warrels story alone, each of the band members gives his 110% skill and talent to create one of the most devastating and desolate metal albums out there. There's absolutely no doubt or two ways about that. And no, I don't mean that in a doom metal sense whatsoever - this is still Nevermore at their core with the insane blend of progressive, groove and a dash of thrash metal, but with a morose twist. The unnerving sombre intro of "Deconstruction" also reminded me a lot of Opeth and their acoustic progressions which is a very good thing in my book. There's also a flamenco-ish acoustic part in the middle of the song that works wonders for the overall incredible progression of the song. "The Fault Of The Flesh" is one of the more fast paced songs on the album with some incredibly unique riff progressions and a face-ripping atonal solo that honestly has to be heard to be believed. A lot of morose metal music is sad in the hopeful/contemplative way (eg: Opeth and Pain Of Salvation) but Nevermore's sound on this album will crush you into dust with hopelessness and drag you down to the very pits of total and utter despair. Such is the atmosphere of this album.
In spite of my gushing, there is just no way I can pick out standout tracks as all of them are the essential pieces in the final puzzle of the album. In all my years of listening to all kinds of metal, I have yet to find an album that sounds like this one, teeming to the fucking brim with such sorrow, anger, a complete loss of hope and a desolate depressing conclusion of the protagonist probably never seeing the love of his life again. That probably sounds excessively cheesy to a whole lot of you out there, but man if you read the lyrics along with the music, you will begin to see the sheer brilliance of this record. Hands down one of the best concept and metal albums out there. Clearly not an album for every metalhead out there, but if concept albums are your thing and you are looking for a fantastically elegant twist to the more darker, morose side of metal, this album will probably be your holy grail.
Maybe I have the wrong album. Maybe someone with nothing better to do with their time went and found an infinitely inferior album and then proceeded to tag it as though it was this Nevermore album just for shits and giggles. Of course the reality of the whole thing could be that this album is just shite? I'm going with the latter because frankly, Nevermore have only made one good album in the entirety of their tenure on the metal scene, that being 'This Godless Endeavor' and Warrel Dane's excruciating vocals are unmistakable. I swear the man could strip the paint off the walls. 'Dreaming Neon Black' is probably one of the more notable Nevermore albums and their sycophantic fans circle jerk each other over the aforementioned vocals, Jeff Loomis' soloing talents and more importantly, over the story behind this dull, dull, dull album.
Did I mention it's dull? Because I can't emphasise that point any greater, even a 200ft high neon sign that flashes with such intensity that it causes epileptic seizures could not emphasise the point greater, although it would be hilariously awesome in many ways. There are glimpses of brilliance; "Flesh is the Fault" is somewhat derivative in nature but it's the most interesting song due to utilising a simplistic but fast main riff, that and I can't remember Warrel Dane being quite as annoying as usual. "Poisongod Machine" isn't bad either if only because it's four minutes long and keeps things pretty simple instead riding the tangential rocket into the realms of tedious melodic sections. That is probably the biggest offender on this album and prevents it from being slightly more bearable; Nevermore (and their fans) have this unwholesome fetish for unnecessary melodic sections or dropping the guitars entirely whilst Warrel Dane whines all over the top like dragging an enraged siamese cat across fifteen fucking blackboards. "Beyond Within" is only the second song and half way through or so they descend into a section leaving you to reel in terror, praying for salvation either in the form of a decent riff or a over-sized cyanide suppository.
I suppose that in connection with the story the music is rather dark and doesn't really have anything that could be described as fun nor upbeat; they're at least being appropriate in setting the atmosphere and more importantly they don't fall back on overtly lavish keyboards/synths/effects to achieve this. Unfortunately to create this atmosphere they basically axe the 'decent riff department' and opt for banal groove-based riffery; to their credit it doesn't always descend into an 'old motorcycle engine' chug but then once you consider that they keep the number of riffs per song to it's bare minimum and you're just further contributing to the overall dullness of this album. The lead work is fairly sparse except the obligatory solo section in each song which displays a high degree of talent but isn't really worth devoting your memory to, I mean it's quite impressive and helps to break up the monotony that the album produces but once it's over you'd be lucky to recall the solo a few minutes later thanks to the following riff battering your brain into a state of catatonia.
Lyrically the album is emotional and manages to convey a sense of hopelessness and heartbreak at times but more often than not it comes off as sickeningly whiny. Yeah we know it's about some crazy girlfriend who runs off to join a cult and is never seen again but it's just not that enthralling. In fact I'd read all the lyrics but I just can't be bothered, I start reading them and then start to consider doing assignments or lab reports rather than read yet another line that sounds as though it's lifted from the pages from a narcistic and misanthropic English major. The fact I imagine Warrel Dane singing said lyrics just makes the task that much more arduous; the man just can't seem to sing, it's as though he can only orgasm if he deliberately goes out of key, whines or strains his vocals. Nearly every chorus on this album is tarnished and impossible to find catchy because he gets his jollies off on being shit at singing but getting paid for it. However the worst is when they decide to let him sing without having a riff underneath his vocals; the magnification of his ineptitude is frightening and makes songs such as "Dreaming Neon Black" and "The Death of Passion" to be some of the worst on the album.
This album could be bearable, even above average had Nevermore decided to discard the pretentious facade of being progressive, emotional and deep; there are plenty of concept albums that are lyrically brilliant and have a powerful atmosphere whilst still rocking the fuck out; case and point being Iron Maiden's 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' and Opeth's 'My Arms, Your Hearse' (which is funnily enough, the only good Opeth album). Unfortunately Nevermore decided to swing for the fences when they opted to mix emotionally stunted lyrics with poor song writing and a severe lack of riffs; they couldn't have missed any worse even if they were blindfolded, facing the other way and had just 'subbed' four cans of Emu Export. The result is an album that moves along with the urgency of a slug after doing back-to-back gravity bongs for about ten minutes. Every song feels a good two minutes longer than it actually is thanks to the byproduct of slow tempos and repetitive riffs. The album would have improved greatly with a shaving off of a minute or two from some of the longer songs or just writing some decent riffs. Also taking Warrel Dane off vocals and 'putting him down' would not only benefit the band but probably the entire music scene and the world as a whole.
I can't say I really recommend this album to anyone because chances are that you already know if you like Nevermore or not which means you'll have already prepared to denounce me as the reincarnation of Hitler or something. To the rest of you who have been living under a large rock in the snow swept plains of Antarctica I suggest you skip Nevermore's discography, except for 'This Godless Endeavor'. Even I like that album, which is something I suppose.
After reading some raving reviews on this monster of a concept album, I decided to give it a spin. While I've always been a fan of Nevermore's style of progressive metal, I never realized that they had made such an epic masterpiece as this.
"Dreaming Neon Black" is in the same league as Opeth's "Still Life". Simply put, this is one of the greatest American metal accomplishments ever made. Mikael Akerfeldt himself will claim that while Opeth aren't necessarily "technical" in their guitar playing, Jeff Loomis of Nevermore sure as fuck is a shining example of technical guitar skills mixed with an undeniable inner sense of melody.
The amount of soul that went into each and every song on here is just amazing. Warrell Dane is my favorite clean vocalist bar none (sole exception being Tom S. Englund of Evergrey fame). This recording is an exercise of depression and hopelessness. It is in the same musically depressing vein as Cadaver's "In Pains", and there is no resolution to be found here either.
Musically different, but still nihilistically punishing, "Dreaming Neon Black" is an example of what happens when you combine absolute raw talent with a devestating life experience. Jeff Loomis's performance is one of the greatest guitar performances ever recorded. Some of the power chord riffs are so complex that all you can do is kind of sit back in amazement.
Truly harrowing, every song progresses into the next, but there is never an upbeat moment to be found. Every song is a dynamic masterpiece of time changes and cohesiveness. While Dream Theater's "Scenes from a Memory Pt II" was a truly astounding record in itself, I can't help but be convinced that this release by Nevermore makes that aforementioned Dream Theater masterpiece pale in comparison (big fucking time).
This dominating release also features one of the greatest heavy metal songs EVER in "No More Will". This is one of the top 5 American metal records of all time and should be recognized as such.
It's amazing that such raw emotion and depth can be contained in the one disc. It seems so calm and tame until you put it in your CD player and then get pummeled in the face by Beyond Within.
From start to finish this album features plenty of great riffs, plenty of great solos, and plenty of amazing songwriting skills. This is probably Nevermore's most diverse album. The slow songs are REALLY slow, and the fast songs have a LOT of thrash riffs. The riffs on Beyond Within and Poison Godmachine remind me (tone wise and writing wise) of something that could have come straight from the era of Bonded By Blood and Reign In Blood. I wouldn't say they're of equal quality, but they're certainly similar sounding. Dreaming Neon Black doesn't sound very identical to the riffs you'll find on This Godless Endeavor or Enemies Of Reality, instead it's a more classic metal sound.
The guitar solos are highly appropriate and tell the story of the song. Jeff Loomis can shred his fucking NUTS off but chooses to sacrifice that quality (for the most part) to write quality solos. Choice well made, says I. I fucking love shredding, but it's only good when put to tasteful use. Thank God Jeff Loomis knows just how to do that.
The vocals here are Warrel's most emotional to date, and it's easy to understand why. The faster thrash songs here feature angry and distorted vocals, and even epic Rob Halford screams, while the slow ballads feature the most sorrow I've heard in a human voice to date. Dreaming Neon Black and The Lotus Eaters feature Warrel at his most vulnerable vocally. Mind you the singing itself is very very powerful, it's just the desperation he sings the lyrics with that give it that vulnerable feel.
The songs here (as always when listening to Nevermore) vary tastefully. Nevermore have always been good at differentiating songs while keeping true to the theme of the album and to their own sound as a band. This album is certainly no exception at all. Every song has it's own unique vibe. This is the kind of trait that Nevermore (when at their best) excel at, which is why Dead Heart In A Dead World is fairly mediocre compared to their other work.
This album is full of creepy and haunting undertones. They seem to be trying to add a horror movie factor to their writing. They certainly have uneasy chord progressions and eerie guitar passages throughout. Dreaming Neon Black has a haunting introduction, a haunting climax, and an eerie chord structure. No More Will has creepy guitarwork and vocal melodies throughout, and the whole album seems to be designed to fill the listener's head with thoughts of despair and pain. This is NOT a happy album, and it's NOT faking at evil like a lot of metal tries to do. Honestly, they're fucking musicians, they're not evil at all.
Nevermore's above acting evil, instead they exude true misery with this album. Whether they're miserable people or not, they sure brought out all the misery and pain possible to create this album. That's the mark of great musicianship.
Buy this album. Sit in a quiet room and let the experience take you. These songs require full attention. The more attention you give, the more chills you'll get back.
Every band has it’s true moments of glory. Some classics are more widely accepted facts, like Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, and Opeth’s Blackwater Park, but some classics are more arguably opinionated, such as Tool’s Aenima, Mudvayne’s L.D. 50, and Metallica’s Master Of Puppets. Nevermore has such an arguably opinionated classic, Dreaming Neon Black, the band’s fourth album release. With it’s diverse gothic melody and brutal heaviness, Dreaming Neon Black delivers the perfect mixture of extreme metal punishment and soothing melodic atmospheres. The album also marks the band’s last album with guitarist Tim Calvert (replaced by Steve Smyth almost six years later).
Ophidian is the first track on the album, a short intro track distorted ambiance and creepy sounds that prepare for the devastation that the next track brings. Beyond Within delivers some fast and heavy guitar riffs and vicious bass work followed by Warrel Dane’s haunting vocals. The song is a perfect example of Nevermore’s brutality that breaches the line of melodic death metal mixed with it’s thrash/ power metal components that make Nevermore so unique. The song also has a good melodic breakdown of soft guitar strums and steady drum beats, that prove the band can tone themselves down for easy listening. The Death Of Passion is another fast and devastating aura of chugging riffs and haunting vocals. The song has a good range of crushing guitar riffs and slower, more atmospheric guitar melody. Easily one of the more catchy tracks on the album, the song also contains one of Jeff Loomis’ most impressive guitar solos.
Probably the only track on the album that does not impress as much is I Am The Dog. It still contains all the amazing guitar work and atmospheric melody with crushing brutality that make Nevermore who they are, the song loses credibility once Warrel Dane starts singing. Admittingly, the song has probably the best intro on the album, it ends up getting really jumbled in it’s chaotic riffage. Dreaming Neon Black, the album-titled track, is a good relief from the scorching heaviness of the previous songs, with acoustic guitar riffs and soft, melodic vocals. The big thumbs up on the song is the feature of female vocalist Christina Rhoades, who’s haunting voice counter’s Warrel Dane’s in lighter, less abrasive singing. Easily one of the best songs on the album, the dynamics of the chorus and the emphasis on the vocals are what make the song what it is, amazing.
The beautiful melodies surrounding Deconstruction are rather fooling, followed soon by some heavy riffage and dynamic vocals after an ascension of gothic medleys and distorted guitar static. The song has a nice vibe to it with it’s fast guitar work and dynamic chorus making it another good, catchy track. The Fault Of The Flesh has a very good thrashy sound to it with some great bass grooves and demonic sounding vocals at the beginning of the song. Something different is apparent on the track that makes the typical Nevermore sound more or less the normal, and it’s possible the presence of growl-like sounds from Warrel Dane overlapped with his singing that makes the song feel heavier then it is. A good track for the the familiar Nevermore ears, but not a track new fans want to look into to discover the band.
Another near perfect track is The Lotus Eaters, which is based off one of the many adventures of Odysseus from The Odyssey. The song begins with a deep guitar melody and low bass atmospheres. The song is a lot like Dreaming Neon Black, with dynamic electric guitar in the chorus with soft, mellow bridges and powerful singing. Poison Godmachine is another thrash track that follows the end of the previous with fast drumming and ripping guitar and bass riffs. The song is rather sketchy in some parts, but overall has a good, heavy atmosphere and a powerful guitar solo. All Play Dead is a rather doom inspired track, with slow, heavy riffs and more fawcetta vocals. The melodic grooves in the breakdown are the main dynamics of the track, along with the acoustic guitar in the bridges. The song has a good, catchy chorus and a very blues inspired guitar solo.
Cenotaph is another one of the more stranger tracks, with it’s soft guitar melodies and heavy bass, the song then ascends into heavy riffs that lead into some chanting vocals that don’t sound like normal Warrel Dane. The song delivers a very interesting, chilling, progressive feel that competes as one of the best songs on the album. No More Will is another fast track with a slow and melodic intro that leads into speedy riffs and soaring vocal melodies. The song also has avery raspy sound to it in both tone and atmosphere that makes it feel a tad out of place at points. Though the song has some rough moments, it is overall a rather sturdy heavy track. The album finally ends with the almost ambient, acoustic melodies of the short song Forever. The song is simple, haunting, and to the point, but makes a good closer to this classic album.
With Dreaming Neon Black, Nevermore reached the apex of their career. Yes, This Godless Endeavor is certainly an essentially perfect album, and Dead Heart in a Dead World is great as well. Still, I have not yet seen a band capture the insanity, rage, frustration, and torment of humanity as well as on this album. Darkness pours out of every inch of this record and does not relent until the last track is over.
DNB follows the apparently true story of vocalist Warrel Dane's girlfriend, who joined a cult and disappeared, never to be seen again. Dane started having recurring nightmares about her disappearence, and we are left with Dreaming Neon Black, a testament to true pain. Dane's angry wails and suffocating moaning on this album are truly intense and have not been matched since.
The album starts with the brief intro, Ophidian, and moves into Beyond Within, the beginning of the tale of a world gone wrong. It sets the stage with an apathetic main character observing the evils of humanity. Moving on, we have the crushing duo of The Death of Passion and I Am The Dog, setting the story up lyrically and providing some much-needed thrashing for the album's grim second half.
Next is Dreaming Neon Black. Unlike most of their album title tracks, this one is slow the whole way through, although in a very distinct and painful manner. It serves as Dane's soliloquoy to his nightmares and his last messages to his lost love before the main character descends into madness.
Next is Deconstruction, followed by The Fault of the Flesh. The first is a slow, chugging number that incorporates guitarist Jeff Loomis's signature flamenco guitar solos, layering it over Dane's demented vocals. The latter is a dissonant, frustrated number about the human condition. The Lotus Eaters is probably the downer on the album; it's a great song, but wasn't entirely necessary. It blends well, however, into the crushing Poison Godmachine, a much-needed breath of fresh thrash. All Play Dead and Cenotaph go back to the eerie ballad formula.
Although I'm skipping over these tracks quickly, it's important to note that they serve as key elements of the lyrical storyline, and make the album's ending only more appropriate, realistic, and interesting. No More Will is a fantastic penultimate track, with soaring guitar leads and Dane's last cries before the album's true ending. Definitely one of my favorite Nevermore songs, up there with Born, The Riverdragon Has Come, and Engines of Hate.
Finally, we have Forever. It really has to be heard to be understood. Here, Dane's character commits suicide. The lyrics and imagery here are simply black. There is hatred, sorrow, and suffering in this album, and nothing more. Nevermore has effectively created an album that tests the boundaries of metal by being constantly dark and tormented. It has none of the "rock staples" of other metal albums; none of these tracks will make you want to sing along and pump your fist. It's completely black, eerie, and utterly disturbing. DNB's mix of power, progressive, and thrash metal made the zenith of Nevermore's career. Their later albums strive for an entirely different sound and idea, but this is a record that tries to be something else, and succeeds in every way possible.
It's the whole point of reviews to illuminate different ideas and areas of your favourite music. Nonetheless, here's a disclaimer, because I hope this isn't a total fanboy crusade or surface level ego trip like so many CD reviews. I'm probably extremely biased because this record was present in a difficult and remarkable part of my life, offering some aural imagery that has remained with me to this day, but the crystal clear truth is I have never heard a record so well capture the shrieking nothingness at the heart of depression. Ever.
Quite simply, "Dreaming Neon Black" is a total knockout. Nevermore effectively up the game from the already stunning "Politics Of Ecstacy", which boiled with political paranoia and claustrophobia, to make something darker still, more potent. This is their masterpiece, and, the public have spoken, one of the greatest metal concept albums in the history of this genre. Beyond that, I feel that standard reviewing tactics are little use...this is an album that transcends labels and petty boxes, and defies detailed analysis. Individual factors simply don't factor. The end result is one of staggering emotional depth and stabbing fury intertwined, one of those records you remember for its' impact on your existence as a human being.
So basically musical nirvana then. Nonetheless, here is my humble opinion.
You've probably heard the concept is based on vocalist Warrell Dane's girlfriend joining a cult and disappearing, except on this album these events gradually lead the (unnamed) protagonist on the long and lonely road to suicide. Dane's vocal range and precision matches the best in the business, as does his writing, creating a realistic and punishing journey. One can only imagine this is Dane in another universe, falling into his own beautiful world of delusion - just look at the title. It's horrible to hear the layers of his personality effectively peel off, self-control, belief systems, everything, until all that's left is nothing, the emptiness of his life. For a male frontman in a metal band, this is an extraordinarily gutsy thing to do. The delivery and lyrics leave no stone unturned for all to hear, and such open hearted honesty is the primary factor this record strikes me so deeply. For that reason alone I highly recommend this as listening for anyone who has a friend or partner going through loss and the resultant misery. Chances are it will lower their defences as easily as it did mine.
Musically, on one side we have spiteful thrash songs such as 'Fault Of The Flesh', and the classic 'Poison Godmachine'. It's frightening to hear Dane scream so atonally against such convicted thrash work, lyrics such as "We are embodiment of all the world's wrongs". Jeff Loomis' and Tim Calverts' guitar work, much acclaimed, is precise as a pinprick, challenging in odd times, dissonant without being self-indulgent, and still utterly venomous. It cuts through you remorsely and bludgeons you with all the subtlety of death metal at half the tempo, every note perfectly placed. I wouldn't call 'Godmachine' power metal by any stretch of the imagination: we may have the technical supremacy and the odd operatic vocal line ("We AAAAAAAAATE the poison!!"), but this is far, far, far from the fantasy realms of Stratovarius or Rhapsody, instead grounded in brutal reality, a dirty and frothing chastisement of the media lined up with a fabulous drum line and ripping main riff that, well, gets me totally psyched. Classic, in short.
On the other half are slower, richer songs which only serve to give the aggression more perspective and revelation through their confessions. The title track has now passed into metal legend. 'The Lotus Eaters' is the core of the album, a dirge that has, admittedly, left me on the verge of tears numerous times as a shattered Dane pleads to God. The instruments often play as if they were leading a funeral procession, extended open dirges that create waves of sound, and the notable inclusion of some acoustic guitar on the prowling "Deconstruction" provides some counterpoint to this. The highlight is the slow and convincing descent into a remarkable 4 song finale that approaches pure mood music, the fantastic culmination being in the startling "No More Will", where our hero woefully realises that "I see the world fade, no more hope inside, my life means nothing anyway...I still see you now through the pouring rain...I am the lover gone insane". Such an intimate portrayal of inner anguish runs the risk of incurring the sneers of male metalheads, but it's autheticity, though impossible to convey in writing, is undeniable, and one of the most powerful things I've ever heard. I hope all you so called "macho" posers are weeping at the end of this one, because I know you *do* cry. Pfft, you're the REAL pussies.
In a catalogue that's practically perfect, "Neon Black" is the crown jewel. The album slowly becomes a classic as the songs progress. Only a certain recent endeavour comes close. I know I said the individual elements don't matter. But it's got to help somewhat that the vocals, guitars, drums, production and songwriting are all so superb, and greater still that all these elements are so selflessly offered up to the final product. So I can't hit the "submit" button without giving kudos to one of Jeff Loomis' most subdued and nuanced performance to date, Van Williams' remarkable rhythmic drive, Jim Sheppard's sombre touches, Warrell Dane's explosive and painful delivery, Neil Kernon's thick bassy production, and Travis Smith's enriching artwork being the icing on the cake. For such an atmospheric, human, passionate gem, to all these men: Bravo.
What drew me to buying this album was its concept. I am a fan of well executed concept albums such as Opeth – Still Life or Iced Earth – Night of the Stormrider. I won’t go into detail about the story behind Dreaming Neon Black, as it has been explained thoroughly in previous reviews. Intrigued by the story, I purchased the album and gave it a listen.
The instrumental aspects of the album work great. The main riff to “The Fault of the Flesh” is heavy and in your face. Both guitarists display their ability to make exceptional solos, as in “Beyond Within” and “The Death of Passion.” Technical, but not overly technical, these guitarists are quite talented. This talent is also seen in the various acoustic and classical guitar breaks throughout the album. The classical guitar break in the middle of “Deconstruction” doesn’t clash at all. The beginning part of “No More Will” has an excellent acoustic intro that sets the mood for the sorrow portrayed in the song. I have no complaints for the drumming or the bass work either. Both are solid, even if they do not stand out as eye-poppingly good.
Where the album fails is in the vocals. My first few listenings of the album had me left wondering what was wrong with the album. I liked the riffs, and I noticed that there was something peculiar about Warrel Dane’s vocals. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was about his vocals until I gave the album another listen very recently. The fault of his vocals lies in his delivery. There are many moments where some of the ways he chooses to sing the lyrics just do not make sense and sound jarring to listen to. Case in point, the song “The Lotus Eaters” is a moody piece with a plea to God for understanding. The chorus is sung in rough manner without flow. First he sings “Please God why” in a relatively high voice, pauses, and then vocalizes “can’t you hear us” in an absurdly low voice. There’s no flow. A chorus should have some kind of continuity to it. The song “The Death of Passion” has a verse which is clumsily sung. He begins with falsetto, and for one word he drops down to his normal voice, then quickly goes back to falsetto. Dane’s vocals do not come off as melodic. Having heavy riffs does not excuse this, as Iron Maiden, Iced Earth (especially Night of the Stormrider) have heavy riffs with vocal melodies that can be sung along to. It’s not even a requirement to have cleanly-sung vocals to have catchiness. Alexi of Children of Bodom sings harshly, yet many of their vocal lines are memorable. I challenge you to sing along to the vocals of Dreaming Neon Black, and then sing along to songs of Iced Earth or Iron Maiden. You will notice a huge difference. The lack of continuity and coherence, plus the feeling of randomness to his vocals, would make singing along either sound strange or hilarious, especially on the title track where he sings the chorus in an oddly chosen low voice.
Speaking of the title track, there is a female vocalist present here. Well, her vocals are off as well. She sounds just fine as the backup vocalist singing “Swim through me” in the chorus, but her singing solo reeks of 80s hair metal. It’s all in the tone of her voice; she works fine in the background, but not up front.
I can’t bring myself to listen to this album on a frequent basis. There are good elements to it, but nothing to really draw me back to listening.
This CD by Nevermore "Dreaming Neon Black" is one of the most bitter, angry, depressing albums I have ever listened to; and for good reason. "Dreaming Neon Black" is a concept album based around Darrell Wane losing his girlfriend/fiancée to a drug cult. Doing what many people would do in his situation Dane decides to express his feelings by writing this album. No emo or nu-metal band could ever touch the depth and emotion of an album of this depth. For one thing the loss of a loved one is more difficult than having homework. One other thing too, Nevermore can write and play the music extremely well.
The album definitely has a distinct pattern within the song writing. First and foremost, none of the songs are happy. They are harsh, bitter, and angry; or they are bitter, slower and depressing. It is after the song "I am the Dog" that the pattern kicks in.
Songs one through four is fast and loud, and bitter. The guitars go through several time changes at various speeds. You can hear the scales being played on these songs, and the ever so popular power chords are not abused on these or any of the other songs. The drumming sets some interesting drum lines and riffs, and never strays off course. You can also hear some very interesting bass riffs and bass lines on this album. The vocals are convicting, and well put out.
After "I am the Dog" we come to the title track. "Dreaming Neon Black" is the first song on the album that is truly depressing, and convicting. All of the instruments play together in perfect harmony even when time changes are rampant. The vocals done by both Darrel Wane and Christine Roades are very nicely done. This is the first song on the album that proves that you don't have to be angry in order to write a depressing album.
After this song we hear "Deconstruction" which is a fast paced, bitter song. By now you should know what to expect from the music. It is more of the same from the previous songs, only faster and louder. This is the first song where Warrel Dane really shouts against religion as an evil thing. As some people know I am Christian, and it might seem odd that this song here is one of my favorites. Hell, if some church I don't give a damn about what religion went off and brainwashed and killed someone I loved you can bet your ass I would be talking negatively about that sect, church, or cult.
The pattern pretty much goes like this after "I am the Dog". Slow song, fast song, fast song, slow song, fast song, etc.
The slowest and most heart wrenching song on this album is "The Lotus Eaters". With perfect harmony, and melody the song is a perfect example of the begging phase with God. Warrel Dane is more or less asking God why his fiancée/girlfriend was taken away from him, and some other interesting questions.
This album should be listened to as a whole and in order to receive the full benefits of this album.
I'll just say it right away, this album is mind blowing. For me, this is as good as music of any kind gets. I am yet to hear a better a combination of musicality, songwriting and emotion in one album. The way the songs flow together as one story makes this album even more brilliant.
Musically, the performance on "Dreaming Neon Black" is just phenomenal. The guitarists are just all over this album, a true riffing fest with excellent lead work on top. Warrel Dane also clearly prove why he is my favourite vocalist. Well I'll go straight to the songs instead of ranting about how good Loomis and Dane are, most people already know that.
After a short intro "Beyond Within" begins with an awesome all-out thrashy headbang section and goes into a very vocally powerful verse, eventually going into a spacey a slower part that ends with the killer solo. After that the awesome mainriff comes back and just shatters everything once again. The vocal performance by Warrel on this one is exceptional. Brilliant opener.
Next up is "The Death of Passion". It's about at the same pace as "Beyond Within" but with a somewhat different approach. The bass is very prominent in this song and Warrel tries out some interesting vocal patterns.
"I Am The Dog" - Right when this song picks up you can hear something more heavy is coming, at first It's somewhat melodic before wandering into shatteringly heavy parts. The vocal performance on this one is once again brilliant. Everything I used to be has spiralled into insanity \m/
Next up is the title track, which is the ultimate Nevermore ballad. Very haunting acoustic play with another very good Warrel performance. It's also quite well placed on the album as it provides a bit of relaxation between all the riffing insanity in most of the other songs.
After "Dreaming Neon Black", "Deconstruction" starts with its dark intro. Right away when Warrel's vocals come in one can sense that there's something incredibly heavy coming. After about 2 minutes of slowness, the slaughter starts when Loomis puts the distortion on. Every riff featured in this song is killer. The verse lyrics on this one are incredible too, with great catchy patterns as well as depth. This is probably my second favourite Nevermore song after "The Learning". And I have to add that the acoustic solo on this one is one of the most killer parts I've ever heard in any song, ever.
"The Fault of Flesh" is another brilliant track with a great lyric approach. Once again the bass is very prominent and the riffs are brilliant. Warrel sounds like a total madman in places.
After that there's once again time for a slow track. "The Lotus Eaters" is very doomy and fits very well into the concept. Warrel's vocal performance in the end when he goes "Are we your childen? Are we lost?" is just mind blowing.
Right at the end of that track, "Poison Godmachine" comes galloping with maximum intensity. Warrel is just on fire during the verses and displays amazing power, the higher ranged screams in the end are simply chilling as well.
"All Play Dead" and "Cenotaph" are up after "Poison...". These tracks are more experimental and somewhat odd. They do carry a lot of emotional weight and add well to the concept though, still probably my 2 least favourite tracks on this album.
After that it's time for some more pure awesomeness, as "No More Will" comes in. A great acoustic intro is followed by a heavy melodic riff with some emotional vocal patterns by Warrel. After that there's THE riff. At 1:27 one of the most killer riffs I've ever heard just comes thrashing in and Warrel's vocals follow as he brings in his more aggressive vocal stylings once again. Amazing song.
The album ends with the incredibly sorrowful "Forever", which pretty much is Warrel singing on top of a slow, simple instrumental pattern. Very emotional and a great end to a great album.
Nevermore have always been a consistent band, and Dreaming Neon Black is proof that the consistency has continued. Dreaming Neon Black is an excellent album to start any power metal collection with, and I'll explain why.
Basically, this album is about a relationship with a girl that singer Warrel Dane had, and he eventually loses her. He gets very depressed, and he winds up committing suicide in the end. The lyrics and the mood created by the album's musicianship and production fit this story nearly flawlessly.
The album opens with "Ophidian" and "Beyond Within", the latter track opening with crunching riffs and some slide guitar, courtesy of Jeff Loomis and Tim Calvert, plus an intro of pounding drums from Van Williams. On "The Death Of Passion" and "I Am The Dog", the overall pace slows down a little bit, but is still fairly fast. Next we get to the title track, which begins with some acoustic guitar and almost soothing vocals from Dane, then the chorus has some nasty riffing. The song works into an eerie-sounding mid-section at about the 3:45 mark with some female vocals, then works back into the chorus. "Deconstruction" greets us next, and it has some of Dane's best vocal work with Nevermore, especially in the beginning of the song. "The Fault Of The Flesh" is a heavy thrasher with some nasty riffing and fast double-bass drums, before going into the much slower "The Lotus Eaters". Jim Sheppard's bass playing and the guitars from Loomis and Calvert, coupled with Dane's haunting vocals give this song a very gloomy and depressing feel, and the lyrics fit the story perfectly. "Poison Godmachine" and "All Play Dead" show the story at its climax, and are both fast, heavy thrashers. "Cenotaph" is another track similar in style to "Lotus Eaters", and the story ends with two moving tracks, "No More Will" and "Forever", which is where the main character ulimately commits suicide, a la the end of Romeo And Juliet. The last track features about 6 minutes of silence, and is a very ultimately sad song, but a very good way to end the album.
This album has great musicianship and a great story, I demand you go out and pick this one up; you will not regret it if you love power and thrash metal, especially in the vein of Burnt Offerings-era Iced Earth. This album is also a reason why Nevermore is one of the most loved power-thrash bands of the 90's, both in the US and abroad.
Overview - Nevermore follows up the milestone of The Politics Of Ecstacy by incorporating some of their first album's thick power metal sound. The lyrics of the album are a concept based around an ex girlfriend of Warrel's who joined a cult then killed herself. So basically this is really cheerful. Expect plenty of happy folk music. I am currently dripping with sarcasm for the brain dead.
The Good News - A solid follow up and some of the songs on this disc are amongst the top of Nevermore's catalogue. Deconstruction has an absolutely brilliant intro and build up which gives way to an absolute bulldozer of a song. Slower and methodical destruction. The vocals and lyrics of the intro absolutely overflow with evil. Beautiful work. Poison Godmachine is another top spot with it's great bass work and intensity. Great axe work behind the chorus as well. The #1 pick of the album has to be the title track though which is just plain genius. A magnificent ride which manages to sound heavy yet soft at the same time. I can't even do it justice with words.
The Bad News - Not really as intense and ripping as the last. I would've called it a step backwards at the time, but in hind sight it is a suiting progression into the next masterpiece. There are a few songs that sound bland such as I Am The Dog and Death Of Passion which sound kind of similar.
Definetely my favourite Nevermore album. Whilst I don't particularly like the crunchy guitars (despite their heaviness), and I don't think Warrel Dane is one of the greatest vocalists in the world, this is an unbelievable album... The album sets the tone, pace and feeling of the album, and so many emotions are provoked by the atmosphere of the album.
Warrel Dane is on top form, his vocals are haunting, perfect for the storyline, the Jeff Loomis fills in the gaps with some brilliantly heavy guitar work, the riffs are crushing and biting, the solo's merge into the songs so well, and the drums add to the pace and anger of the album.
Dreaming Neon Black stands out as the best song on the album, its slower than some of the other songs but the chorus is brutally powerful, Dane shines on this one... Deconstruction hit me as well as a good song, the intro is chilling. Other songs that are highlights, the moody 'lotus eaters', Cenotaph is unusually chilling, and Forever is perhaps the most depressing song put to speakers.
All in all, a brutal metalfest that doesn't let up until the final note. Whether you like Nevermores style or not, this one is a winner!
So many different words can describe this album, and so many emotions can be conjured up by listening to it. As far as this genre of metal goes this is as good as it gets...plenty of atmosphere + great songwriting + the always outstanding vocals of Warrell Dane make this Nevermore's best release to date undoubtedly. The overall feel of Dreaming Neon Black is very dark and brooding, but also amazingly heavy and crunchy at times as well. However the thing that really makes this album special is the way the songs are structured and written, much so in a way that will have each and every one of them stuck in your head again and again. Every song is not only catchy but they always have that little melody or hook, usually in the form of Warrell's transcendental voice, that just pulls at your heart and makes you wanna sing along. The vocals are simply great and in my opinion Warrell Dane is the PERFECT singer for this style of metal..he sings with great conviction once again on DNB, just as he always has!! But all of that is not to ignore the rest of the band, the guitarwork of Jeff Loomis adds the perfect atmosphere and not only that, tons of excellent soloing is to be found here, as his guitar playing makes me believe that this is the way 'dark metal' should be played! All that backed by the solid basswork of Jim Sheppard, and the superb drumming of underrated drummer Van Williams make Dreaming Neon Black an instant metal classic that will live on forever!!!
Standouts=No More Will, The Lotus Eaters, Deconstruction, and the chilling title track.
This is nevermores 3rd full length release and its simply awesome. It is based around the concept of an old girlfriend of Warrel's who dissapeared and never heard from again. Read the lyrics to understand more about this.
To be blunt, this cd is just fucking awesome. It has some wicked fast songs that will have you headbanging and it has some songs that may seem like ballads, but really aren't and are in a very dark mood. Warrel puts in what could be called his best performance vocally on this cd, as he is all over the board. He hits really high notes, low notes and everything in between. At times you just feel his pain, as his singing will show you his tortured feelings along with the lyrics. Jeff Loomis rips and shreds many great solos on this cd, which he always does. The bass is evident on the cd and is noticeable, but nothing mindblowing. But either way, its always great when you can actually hear all the instruments. Van's drumming is awesome as always as he sets the tone for songs with his fast drum work and at other times its a slow brooding type music, which fits. The production on the cd is great and you can hear everything.
Overall this is an awesome cd from start to finish, though it may take a few listens to get adjusted to, due to the variety on it. Standout tracks...well all of them actually, but Beyond Within, I Am the Dog and Poison Godmachine are really killer tracks. This cd should be in everyones collection, so if you don't have it, GET IT!