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Well, now here we have a quandary for me: a successful band that have not sold out and gone mallcore even after many years of struggling, an album that is getting a lot of good press, and yet I just don't think Nevermore - or this album - are all that great. "This Godless Endeavor" is getting on a lot of 'best of' lists for 2005, in many cases in the top spot. Sadly, what this says to me is that we have a lot of so-called 'metal' reviewers who are not listening closely enough to their chosen genre, and are just grabbing the most-hyped thing to show up in the mail and proclaiming it godly.
Nevermore started as Sanctuary, another band that got a lot of buzz, but was not really very good, despite what you may have heard, and many of the flaws of Sanctuary followed Warrell Dane and Co. to Nevermore. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, what is good about this album? Well, for one thing, Nevermore are heavy as hell, and they don't write simple, dumb-chunk riffs either, so musically I like Nevermore quite a bit when they can keep the energy level up. "Endeavor" does this quite well at the start, as the first four tracks or so are uptempo bursts of metal shredding that kick along quite nicely. All these songs pretty much sound alike, but when they are this hard and heavy, I don't mind that so much. Nevermore have a tendency – not carried to excess on this album as on others – to slow down and get moody. And one of the more reliable musical equations in life is Nevermore + Slow = Dull. So when this album slows down, it more or less grinds to a halt. So tracks 5-8 are pretty much a total waste of time. But then things get good again with the blasting riffs of "Psalm Of Lydia", and the next two songs, including the title cut, are not too bad either.
The real problem Nevermore have is Warrell, who at least used to have an almighty shrieking upper range in the Sanctuary days. This was a good thing, as his midrange vocals sucked – they have always sucked – but now he either no longer has the upper range, or just won't use it. Let's be utterly honest. I always hear about how people think his vocals are 'great', and I just don't understand that at all. He has an okay voice, but he has no real range anymore, no conviction, no charisma, and crappy tone. There is just nothing exciting or compelling about his vocals at all, and in fact he tends to sing in the same key a lot, making the songs sound even more alike than they already do. I suspect that years of hard living have just taken their toll, or he never knew how to sing properly to begin with and damaged his vocal cords. So now he just sounds like a guy with a head cold.
I don't think this is a terrible album or anything, but one of 2005's best? Oh please, there were so many better albums released you wouldn't get this one on a top 50. Nevermore are an average band who have a fanbase due to their longevity, for which they deserve genuine recognition, but not this much. Sanctuary were a second-rate band back in the 80s, and Nevermore are just Sanctuary with better production and worse vocals. Get a grip people, this is not an album to get all that worked up over.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com