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I still don't want to believe it, but it's futile. Now matter how much I struggle to fool myself, reality refuses to change.
Being and avid Nevermore fan who considers Dreaming Neon Black and This Godless Endeavor to be some of the greatest metal records of the past two decades, I was fired up about this album like you wouldn't believe. I was positive it would be the best metal album of the year. Almost like a milestone in modern metal, a turning point, a revolution of some sort...
...and I chose to ignore the signs that were already indicating that this would not be the masterpiece I was expecting. The two main forces of the band, Loomis and Dane, both released solo albums, which probably meant that their creative output was somehow being restricted by the style of the band. When your singer and guitarist decide to start sideprojects, you know your band is in trouble.
Then there was Peter Wichers: the guitarist from Soilwork, an once awesome melodeath band that after only three albums decided to whore itself out to the american mainstream. That's the guy who was going to produce the album. This wasn't a good sign either.
Finally, Loomis stating that he was giving Dane more "room for the vocals" was also unsettling. Obviously Warrel had enough room to use his vocals in whatever way he wanted on his solo record, why would he want to do it again?
Fast forward to late April 2010, and the whole album leaks. So I decide to try it out. I give it a listen, and I'm not really impressed. Then again, I'm usually the kind of guy who will listen to an album and say "eh, it's alright" later to give it another try and go apeshit about how amazing it is, and how is it possible that he didn't really like it at first.
So I gave it another spin. And another. And another. I've listened to it numerous times during the past six months, and here's my veredict.
It blows goats.
Now then, if you were to ask me exactly why it sucks, I'd tell you that there are a few factors at play. To be fair, it's not like the band has forgotten how to play their instruments. Loomis has been able to come up with some pretty decent riffs, such as in The Termination Proclamation, She Comes In Colors and the title track. The rythmic section is as solid as ever, and Warrel is still and awesome vocalist. What exactly is wrong, then?
First of all, the songs are too streamlined. Now, Nevermore has never been the kind of band that refuses to utilise conventional song structures, except for a couple of tracks, like The Learning and This Godless Endeavor (and even those had recognisable verses and choruses). However, this is just ridiculous. It feels as if every song is just waiting for the chorus to shine. There are barely any mindblowing solos, memorable riffs or great vocal lines. The lyrics are really bad sometimes, and that's not something I'd like to say about a Nevermore song. Take a look at the lyrics from Emptiness Unobstructed:
"The world is a spinning ball of confusion that no one understands."
Seriously? It's hard to believe this is the same man who wrote the lyrics from songs like Sentient 6 and No More Will.
There are some songs that feel like they were written as 6-7 minute epics, but were cut down for some reason. And The Maiden Spoke, The Blue Marble And The New Soul (where Warrel's lyrics are actually up to his usual level for once) and She Comes In Colors all showcase good ideas, but again, they're too streamlined and just when you think that things are getting interesting, the song is over and you're left thinking "...that's it?"
And that's the feeling that I get from listening to this album. It has "tame" written all over it. Even the so-so self titled album had more furious riffs and passionate vocal performance.
Some people may think that I get pleasure from bashing this album. I don't. Nothing would have made me happier than being able to say that this is a worthy follow-up to This Godless Endeavor, that Nevermore has done it again, that this album is excellent. However, I can't. I had really high expectations for this album, and they haven't been met.
Sure enough, some Nevermore albums are better than others. DNB and TGE, for example, are much, much better than EoR or DHIADW. The problem is that we had waited five years for a new record. And now with the ongoing solo projects and the Sanctuary reunion, this might very well be the last Nevermore album we'll ever see.