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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.