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I bet most of you are wondering why I even bother with this band anymore. "But Empyreal, you've already given fairly low scores to other Nevermore albums! Why bother with this one again?"
Well, the only reasonable explanation I can give you is that I went back to edit my previous review for this piece and found it lackluster, leading to me listening to the album again, which lead to my realization that it was in fact the worst metal has to offer today. So here we go:
Let me just get it on the table before I get into the meat of this review: Nevermore sucks. This band perplexes the fuck out of me, being as inconsistent as Iced Earth's discography and as painful as having a leg blown off by a landmine in the middle of a bloody battlefield, all in one album. We have terrible, angsty, almost emo sounding vocals and vocal melodies, some really shabby, blunt, boring modern riffs that often cross the line into Korn's backyard (which is really trashy and reeks of three month old bologna and tuna sandwiches, by the way), and the songs plod on and on until you're ready to violently murder the band members with a rusty chainsaw, but then we do have a few moments that reveal flashes of what could've been a perfectly acceptable heavy metal album, albeit rather sparse.
The first Nevermore album I heard was Dead Heart in a Dead World, which was thoroughly underwhelming and didn't do jack shit for me. Just like that album, this is ridiculously bland and tedious, and the band repeatedly throws ideas at you, desperately hoping one or two of them will stick, but none of them ever do. Except this album is somehow much, much worse than I ever thought Nevermore could get in their entire lifetime or mine. This is despicably and disgustingly modern; modern in that super polished, slick, pre-processed, plastic way that so many other albums are these days, and it really says a lot for the state of metal these days. Nevermore have failed once again to create memorable or compelling music, pitch squeal harmonics, nu metal vocal lines, and chugging riffs galore. Sigh.
The formula for this album isn't complicated or involving; it's just modern heavy metal with big, heavy riffs that don't go anywhere and attempts at progression that might be good, if not for the muddy, slushy production and Dane's angsty crooning. Seriously, some people are born to sing, and some aren't. Take a guess at which category Dane falls into. And people say he's one of the best singers in metal today...nonsense, I say! The band members here are talented, no doubt, but you wouldn't know it from this aberration. I'm grasping for straws here trying to describe the music, but there isn't a whole lot to say beyond "generic heavy metal." That's about it. Picture something like a darker Dream Evil or Wolf (Swe), downtuned a lot more and slowed down, with some slight nods to modern "thrash" metal, and with all the energy sucked out of the mix by a gigantic vacuum cleaner, and you'd get this album. This is just the epitome of bad "modern" metal, and it's fucking sickening. The riffs aren't even any good, for Christ's sake - the band just cranks out boring, stupid, dull riffs and rides them out for 6 minutes, throws in a somewhat cool guitar lead and calls it a song - and there you have The Politics of Ecstasy.
I didn't intend to delve into a track by track, but every track here just sucks so much that I couldn't help myself. The album starts off with a formless, shapeless lump titled ''The Seven Tongues of God'', which has no redeeming features and passes by you in a midpaced chugathon without even leaving behind a footprint. Not even the intro riff is any good, and that same riff is pretty much repeated throughout the whole six fucking minutes of the song. Yawn. Skip this crap. "This Sacrament" is only a little bit better, except for Dane's vocals, which are awful here, as usual (hello, St. Anger-era Hetfield!). His attempts at sounding angry here have slurred his voice to the point where I want to just shoot him and end this unbearable crap. Chugga, chugga, goes the riff train! Blargh.
But we haven't witnessed how bad the band can get until we reach the song "Next In Line", which is more than slightly mallcore-influenced. The intro riff is terrible and Dane...well, Dane shouldn't be trying to do vocals while on the shitter. He'd sound more at home doing Shitknot covers than singing for a band like this...but what's the difference anyway? I remembered who else he reminds me of; Angel Dust's vocalist, Dirk Thurisch. Except Thurisch actually sounds good, and doesn't whine at all, and doesn't sound like he's about to cry after 99% of his vocal lines, and is in a band that doesn't suck more than a promiscuous, rather ugly stripper giving a vacuum cleaner a blow job. "Passenger" might be an attempt at doom metal, as it is slow and plodding, but Nevermore can't do that either, because this song just sucks just like all the others here. They're trying, and I'd really love to encourage them and tell them to remember the Little Engine That Could and recite the age-old mantra "I think I can, I think I can!", but that's the thing, they really can't do "it" at all. Some bands have "it", but not Nevermore.
The title track is next, and it's a scientifically proven fact that suffering through Warrel Dane's opening oral crimes on humanity of "I hate you, the pigs who turn the screws, I hate everything you stand for!" often renders the listener HIV positive, and I really don't think that is what the band was going for. While the vocal lines remain atrocious throughout the 7 minutes of this song, my dislike of it is (somewhat) rectified by the fact that this song is musically the best on the album, with a more mature, complex structure to it (they didn't just rehash the same riff through the whole song), and there's actually some buildup into a fiery, stomping affair that surprisingly isn't too bad at all. It's too long, though, and sadly Dane just doesn't know when to shut his mouth, rendering the song slightly below what it could've been with a bit of refinement.
Unfortunately, the band doesn't seem to want to give us two good songs in a row, so next we get "Lost" and "The Tienanmen Man", neither of which are any good, and both of which are chock full of the same ear-bleeding mistakes as most of the rest of this album is, nuff said. The latter isn't as bad as other tracks here, but that's just saying that it's a mound of feces that smells slightly rosier than other mounds of excrement. The high point of this album is the 1 minute instrumental "Precognition", which does not have Warrel Dane's whining or the boring riffs that the rest of the album has. It's a rather touching, nostalgic string piece, and it proves that if Nevermore made instrumental music only, they'd be much better. And then back to more Dane whining and dull nonsense with the last two tracks, and then finally silence graces your ears as the album ends.
With their lyrics, Nevermore seems to be stuck in their little "I hate the world */wrist* *tear*" rut, and the lyrics for the songs here are all quite depressive. Don't bother listening to this if you're in a bad mood (and if you're in a good mood, you shouldn't listen to it anyway, but that's beyond the point), because the lyrics here are pretty much the most depressing I've ever read outside of some funeral doom metal. They're very well written (especially "The Passenger" and "The Tienanmen Man"), which is a plus, but they don't do anything for me.
I'm at a loss for how bad Nevermore really were; I did not expect it to be this blatantly awful in the least. I remember saying that Nevermore wasn't a bad band, and they're still really not (instrumentally) - but saying this album is good would be wishful thinking. I fail to see any reason for this to be as highly praised as it is. Every song here sounds more or less the same, and none of them are enjoyable in the least, and none of them are anything other than really awful background music. Seriously, if you think this is the best heavy metal can be in the modern age, take a listen to Gamma Ray's No World Order, Wolf's The Black Flame or Tarot's Suffer Our Pleasures, and then listen to this again. Okay? Okay.
This album starts with a whimper and ends without a bang, going nowhere at all except right into the fucking dirt, where it should just stay forever. Would you like a healthy platter of insightful, soaring, melodic and all around good music? Avoid The Politics of Ecstasy then. It gets 5 points for a few good ideas, but there's no way around the fact that this album is an abomination upon humanity.