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Hindsight is a curious thing, like a flashlight from beyond, it tends to illuminate the gears turning behind the scenes and clues one in on what was once thought a shocking turn of events. No, this is not to attribute some sort of lyrical or musical brilliance to add to the chorus of unquestioning sycophants in the direction of this album's creator, but more to shed some light as to why Nevermore, arguably a troubled band on the mend and headed to better things, self-destructed a couple years later. Trial separations usually precede divorces, and Jeff Loomis' hiatus to create a superior mold of modern sonic darkness coupled with Warrel Dane's self-satisfying plunge into a solo capacity raises questions as to whether there was trouble brewing in the dark and distant realm of Seattle, or at least it should have in retrospect. Nevertheless, Loomis surprisingly managed to reveal with Zero Order Phase that the Nevermore box had been holding him back a bit as a musician, but not before Warrel Dane succeeded in making the same point all the more loudly with this steaming pile of metalcore-tinged shit dubbed Praises To The War Machine.
From a qualitative standpoint, this album is about on par with a number of latter day Queensryche albums before Geoff Tate got the ax, and at times the music even takes on that sort of stagnant, groovy rocking character, particularly during the softer sections. The employment of two metalcore associated guitarists as primary musicians (admittedly, two of the more technically proficient out of the mix) combined with an obvious desire on Dane's part to dumb things down a bit more results in a number of lifeless, contrived affairs in radio oriented rock cliches that came to define concurrent offerings out of In Flames. To his credit, Warrel has managed to maintain a somewhat cleaner and less grating vocal approach that some of the more obnoxious moments heard on Dead Heart In A Dead World, but what stands in its place is a generally flat and boxed in rock vocal approach that, again, reminds rather painfully of Geoff Tate's mid-ranged drudgery following Hear In The Now Frontier. There are also some fairly decent guitar solos spread about this thing, some of it the handiwork of soon-to-be-estranged partner in sonic crimes Jeff Loomis alongside respected names like Chris Broderick and James Murphy, though most of the noodling is handled by Wichers and Wicklund, themselves reasonably strong guitarists that were attached to other lackluster projects at the time.
The thing about this album that sort of defies logic, apart from anyone liking it, is the notion that it is in any way, shape or form a progressive metal affair. There are very few places where things go out of the typical verse/chorus format, very few songs get that far beyond the four minute mark, and apart from the guitar solos the entire instrumental arrangement backing Dane's vocals is punishingly basic. Would be radio fodder such as "When We Pray", "Obey" and "The Day The Rats Went To War" are kinda heavy in a sort of "here's a singular riff that's chug-happy and moderately animated, but surrounded with melodic, lighter feeling fanfare that only Robb Flynn could love", but a far cry from the animated streams of ideas heard on The Godless Endeavor or even the less terrible moments of Dreaming Neon Black. Awkward balladry bordering on easy listening like "Let You Down" and "This Old Man" are dead ringers for the sort of "woe is me, because my fee fees" nonsense that In Flames passes off as music nowadays, albeit with that husky, baritone audio chocolate as only Warrel Dane can deliver, though too many mistake it for the chocolate that goes in rather than the kind that comes back out. The only song on here that even feels slightly interesting is the Sisters Of Mercy cover, which has sort of a depressed Goth rock gone metal vibe that manages to work with Dane's vocals a bit better.
The same convention of hearing impaired music connoisseurs that drooled all over Nevermore's middle era must have temporarily commandeered most of the metal press when this came out, because there is no other way to explain the undue love that has been showered upon this heap of vapid trite R. Kelly style. If nothing else, this alleged solo project confirms that Nevermore needed Loomis a lot more than the reverse, and that intricate progressive music sounds better with no vocals than dull, banal groove/metalcore ideas with marginally passable vocals. Between this album and Queensryche's American Soldier, one is left to ponder why the so praiseworthy war machine didn't see fit to send some strategically aimed missiles at select targets in Washington state in response. Maybe Warrel and the infamous Uncle Sam have some sort of professional courtesy between underachievers.
It comes as no surprise that most ventures into writing a solo album by metal vocalists are, at best, forgettable and at worst, horrific. At times, the results are an inferior version of their main band's music. Other times, one can hear the culmination of negative aspects that the singer had let seep into his band's music (see Geoff Tate's self-titled album for just one example of this). Despite this, my expectations were still high in the days preceding "Praises To The Warmachine's" release. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Nevermore's "This Godless Endeavor" was (and still is) one of my favorite metal albums of all time. Even Dane's statement that this would be quite different from Nevermore was not enough to dissuade my excitement at the possibilities this album had to offer. In fact, not even the inclusion of Peter Wichers as Dane's chief songwriting partner could stifle my enthusiasm.
The songs as a whole are much more straightforward than the usual Nevermore song. There is usually a simple main riff and a typical verse-chorus structure. The instrumentation is far less complex, aside from a flashy solo each from Jeff Loomis and James Murphy in "Messenger" and "The Day The Rats Went To War," respectively. However, the riffs succeed in their simplicity, and the choruses stick in the mind, in a positive way as opposed to the 'so annoying you can't get it out of your head' manner of a typical pop song.
There are doses of alternative rock/metal along with some goth-rock influences as well. In addition, there is the especially effective use of atmosphere to guide and enhance some songs. Despite the presence of frequent Warrel Dane buzzwords like "pigs," "jester" and "parasites," the lyrics are a mix of the intellectually stimulating and the deeply personal. "Brother" and "This Old Man" are two examples of this deeply personal approach, the former being about Dane's emotional wounds after the failure of his brother to provide emotional support after the death of his mother. Dane does a fine job of allowing the listener into his life and allowing him/her to understand his cerebral process towards the circumstance.
There are two covers here, one being an almost unrecognizable cover of Paul Simon's "Patterns." The other is a goth-metal cover of Sister Of Mercy's "Lucretia My Reflection," which is so good that it is arguably the best track here. In some cases, having a cover ranking as the best song on an album is a sign of failure, yet because Dane does such an effective job of putting his own stamp on the song, it is nothing but a success. Ranking right up there with "Lucretia" is "August," which manages to be emotionally stirring while still being relatively heavy and not resorting to the typical ballad-structure. "When We Pray" has an irresistible hook that is classic Warrel Dane. "Your Chosen Misery" builds from soft acoustic guitars to a great harmonized chorus and is another favorite. "Equilibrium" ups the tempo and heaviness while still sounding quite different from Nevermore and is another highlight.
The only negative aspect of this album, besides the stock main riff of "Messenger," is the song "The Day The Rats Went To War." It's one of the heavier songs, but despite a good solo from James Murphy, this song is usually skipped.
"Praises To The Warmachine" is an album that can be utilized as music to rock out to in the car with the windows down and also serve as a conduit for introspection. Warrel Dane succeeds with this solo album because he successfully ventures into new territory without abandoning and alienating his supporters. This is a superb album that deserves to be heard beyond Nevermore's fan-base.
When Warrel Dane announced he would be releasing a solo album, the main question was if Dane could hold up the high quality of Nevermore's music without Jeff Loomis on his side. I found myself not convinced either, especially because Dane's right hand on 'Praises To The War Machine', former Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers, isn't exactly among the musicians I appreciate most. No need to worry though. Of course 'Praises To The War Machine' is nowhere near as brilliant as 'Dreaming Neon Black', 'Dead Heart In A Dead World' or 'This Godless Endeavor', but it's a great album nonetheless. Especially when Warrel surprises the listener.
Cleverly, Dane and Wichers chose to open the album with two tracks that are quite Nevermore-ish. I would describe 'When We Pray' and 'Messenger' as "Nevermore Light". The songs are simpler and slightly more melodic than Dane's main band and offer Dane more space to shine vocally, but are not unlike what Nevermore would do. Especially not considering that Jeff Loomis plays the guitar solo on the latter.
'Obey' is a mediocre track with a great solo section, but revenge follows with an absolutely brilliant Sisters Of Mercy-cover. I'm usually not too fond of covers, but guitarist Matt Wicklund's heavy arrangement of 'Lucretia My Reflection' is even better than the already amazing original. And that brings Warrel's count to 2, after Nevermore's rendition of 'The Sound Of Silence', which was a million times better than the originial by Simon & Garfunkel as well. The count will rise to 3, but I'll get to that later. The verses to 'Lucretia' are a pleasant first listen into the lower region's of Warrel's vocal registers. He sounds great this way.
After 'Lucretia', theres a trilogy of more Warrel Dane's more introspective side. 'Let You Down' and 'August' wouldn't have sounded out of place on one of Paradise Lost's later albums, with the exception that they would have been remarkably good maybe. It's a side of Dane we rarely get to hear in Nevermore and it probably wouldn't fit in the band either, but it suits the singer quite well.
In the form of 'The Day The Rats Went To War', we get another Nevermore Light-moment. The lyrics are less personal and more political and James Murphy lends a hand to the song by playing a wonderful guitar solo. The chorus is a moment of pure genius, especially because of Warrel's layered vocals and Dirk Verbeuren's subtle changes in drumming make every section have a punch of its own. This may be a nice place to start for people who expect something Nevermore-ish.
But then Warrel hits us in the face hard with one of the most personal and most beautiful things he has done so far. 'Brother' is Warrel's cry toward his brother, with whom he has a terrible bond. If the intro - with the brilliant haunting lead guitar in the background - doesn't send shivers down your spine, the way Warrel sings these lyrics will. The guitar solo is pure beauty and if this "semi-doom-ballad" doesn't bring you tears or at least goosebumps, you must have a heart of stone. This one struck me hard. And it's only slightly over three minutes.
And I promised to get back to something. The third better-than-the-original cover Warrel Dane lends his voice to is again one originally by Simon & Garfunkel, namely 'Patterns'. Once again, Warrel chose to keep the good of the song (Paul Simon's good and thoughtful lyrics) and toss away the bad (the incredibly boring music). The result is a great Metal track which doesn't sound like the original in any way. 'Lucretia' resembled the original, 'Patterns' doesn't. Great work by whoever arranged this.
After that, there's once again a bone chilling introspective song that moved the hell out of me. 'This Old Man' tells the story of an old man who was apparently had a big impact on Warrel's youth. Warrel himselfs once again uses his low voice, which gives the song a haunting atmosphere. In addition, you can feel the sincerity in the lyrics by the way he delivers it. Especially when he shortly lets it rip at the end of the third verse, it just rips your heart to shreds. Maybe it helps that I know someone similar in my life, but still, the song illustrates everything wonderfully. My compliments to the guitar work by Wichers and Wicklund, which pull you into the song and don't let you go until it's over. Just check out that brillianty dragging interlude riff...simply celestial...
The Matt Wicklund-penned 'Equilibrium' more or less brings all the elements of the album together - including an unbelievably killer Thrash riff in the verses - and therefore is the ultimate way to round off the album. Be sure to check out Dirk Verbeuren's drumming...just how many arms and legs does this guy have? And whoever plays the guitar solo is a genius.
If you have the limited digibook, you will get a bonus track named 'Everything Is Fading'. Not unlike 'Equilibrium', this song brings together a lot of the elements used throughout the album, just this time without any of the Thrash riffs. 'Everything Is Fading' is more of a Doomy song. Not bad at all though. And Warrel's lyrics are in the booklet as scans of his handwriting, pretty cool.
All in all, I can only say that 'Praises To The War Machine' is a fine addition to the collection of anyone who likes good music. It might throw some of the Nevermore-addicts (which I count myself to as well) off in the beginning, but give it some time and you will like it. Especially if Warrel's vocals are among the most important reasons for you to like Nevermore, as it is with me. Warrel gets more room to shine here than he will ever get in Nevermore. And isn't that exactly what a singer's solo project is for?
Everyone knows Warrel Dane as the controversial frontman of infamous US power/thrash band Nevermore. When I say "controversial" I mean in the sense that he has the biggest supporters as well as the biggest detractors. Many people worship his beautiful melancholic crooning or despise his grating whiny wailing; while I fall in the former group I still can understand a bit how some people dislike him because of his unique vocal approach. It's very operatic while at the same time just as aggressive and punishing, but all the same time epic and powerful.
When Dane decided to go solo with this very politically driven album I was a bit disappointed, I was hoping for another Nevermore album after the very pleasent This Godless Endeavour, but again I was still looking forward to this release because he has always been in my top 10 favorite metal vocalists. After reading and hearing the hype surrounding this, I didn't know what to expect; some would say it's far different from Nevermore's sound, but at the same time very emotional and politically charged like Nevermore's theme. Once again, I was thrown off when I found out guitarists from Himsa and Soilwork would be participating in this; I'm not even close to a fan of Soilwork or Himsa and this did not sit well with me. I was a bit worried it would be a nu groove laden album mixed with pseudo-tough guy vocals or some stupid shit.
Fortunately I was wrong. Praises to the War Machine IS very different from Nevermore and it's sound, but at the same time very similar in a few aspects. The sound here, is a bit like Soilwork mixed with Nevermore's lighter moments almost going semi-Gothenburg at times. Either way it isn't very promising especially with lasting value, since this has been done many times. The bass and drums are more of the same, with nothing special other than certain double bass moments. Drums are highly competent, Dirk Verbeuen has played in bands like Aborted and Yyrkoon, both decent bands with heavy rhythmic sections but it isn't utilized very well here. Fortunately, guest appearances from guitar legends James Murphy and Jeff fucking Loomis of Nevermore (a god). Making the songs they guest solo on much better, definitely being the highlights of the album which is a bit sad since they are 'guest' appearances.
Obviously the biggest highlight here is Warrel Dane; who does a fantastic job as per usual showing very much emotion in his singing, probably more than every Nevermore album combined to showcase a very intense performance full of vocal highlights. Songs like Your Chosen Misery and Brother both nothing special other than slow ballads now stick out with Dane's emotional wailing. I can only imagine the pain or feelings Warrel Dane went through writing the lyrics, going through much personal moments it seems. Lyrics range from angry political ranting to angry biased religious views to sensitive family feelings; all very touchy and moving topics.
Overall the songs here range from totally boring to kickass, with unfortunately the boring weaker songs floating around in higher quality. The best song on here is not the heaviest nor the slowest, but somewhere in between; Let You Down. It's a highly melodic piece full of weird tempo changes that work absolutely perfectly, starting off oddly melodic and mid paced moving to very slow with whispered vocals and ending up a decent mid paced catchy as hell chorus. It's hard not to feel the emotion and catchiness found in Dane's vocals in this song, definitely the best song on the album. Other noticeable moments are the blazing fast The Day the Rats Went to War being the most fun to headbang to. Showcasing some decent actual RIFFS somewhere between Nevermore and The Haunted, this is a fun song highly reminiscent of mid-era Nevemore.
Praises to the War Machine is in no way an absolute stand out amazing album but at the same time no where close to being absolute shit. It's slightly disappointing, I suppose I was expecting a Nevermore clone and didn't recieve one so don't pick this up thinking the same. It's somewhere between heavier rock and grooving metal that somehow works for the most part. Most of the songs don't stick out, but while listening to each individual song it's hard not to enjoy Warrel Dane's vocals because they are absolute standout on this album. Certain songs will stick more than others and those are the biggest highlights; songs like Let You Down, The Day the Rats Went to War, Patterns, and Messenger. Others just tend to drag on or be just plain boring and would be absolute crap if Dane doesn't save them. I highly recommend this for fans of Warrel Dane's voice, he shines 100% here, giving a great emotional performance that is top notch. Other than that, the songs and instruments are simply bland or plain; without the godliness of Jeff Loomis and Van Williams backing it up the overall sound is simply barely passable.
Warrel Dane has become more than a member of Nevermore: he’s led the band on so many levels, and they would royally suck if he wasn’t there to expose his various gifts. As a vocalist, Dane has shown a magical talent when penning symbolic lyrics about social issues while his obscure voice coldly chills around progressive backgrounds. Since he easily carries one group by himself, Dane finally went solo with “Praises to the War Machine,” which undisputedly wins a good label despite a weaker attack on an instrumental measure. Of course, the sole reason when purchasing this album is to fully dwell in Warrel’s strange appearance, and that’s precisely what happens; thus, you’ll notice things don’t excel from an atmospheric perspective. However, I don’t care what they do, because Warrel is today’s shining star, and shine he does.
The ringleader of this emotional circle openly showcases what merits a group revolving around one individual, that being Warrel Dane. Known for bringing a very unique voice to an unoriginal faction, Dane continues his grand falsetto that exposes his twisted tone and range of notes spectacularly, not to mention the backing ambience provides more room for Dane to sing; the result is a stellar execution of oral achievement. There are no weak spots found under Dane’s presence, and no logical person can deny he single-handedly carries this CD straight to Olympus. After hearing his performance, I now prefer “Praises to the War Machine” over porn. End of story.
But all those fantastic glorifications cannot be divided amongst Warrel Dane’s remaining contributors; indeed, the other musicians are horribly bland at what they show here. Layered over Dane’s wonderful chimes are generic, sub-par riffs that unfortunately wrap around groove influence entirely, leaving percussion efforts stuck in one-two fibers and a bass that drags underneath it all. Even worse, there is not an ounce of variation dripping from its wells, making “Praises to the War Machine” crumble right as each anthem starts; it’s a devastating way to apply surroundings. Both Jeff Loomis and James Murphy bestow otherworldly solos during select offerings, yet the whole picture looks quite grim due to a poor demonstration involving too much simplicity, and not enough intelligence.
For a solo album, Warrel Dane has done satisfyingly well at showing off his esoteric vocals and obtuse poetics in proper intervals, but his backing band can’t match those great contributions on their side of things, which is downing, yet nothing severely damaging overall. In order to grasp an understanding, “Praises to the War Machine” was not forged in hopes of testing musical climaxes, but Dane’s famous voice instead, hence why it rules on his behalf and not instrumentally. Still, I’m left feeling quite good about this release in most areas, and it’s definitely something tasty for Nevermore fans craving a little more Dane.
This review was written for: www.leviatan-magazine.com
Well, I’ll be honest with you. I was quite apprehensive and did not want to try to Nevermore vocalist Warrel Dane’s solo effort purely because I did not like his work with the band that shot him to fame. When with Nevermore I found his vocals monotonous, too one-dimensional and at times annoying thus bringing down the level of the inhumanly good work done on the guitar by Loomis. Dane has overcome these vocal drawbacks in his first solo effort to create a good debut album.
If you are expecting Nevermore here then do not. His solo work is neither as technical nor heavy as was with the case with Nevermore, in fact Dane embraces a comparatively relaxed and extremely versatile vocal style here. Yes, versatility is in fact the word which best describes this album. The tracks here range from progressively groovy and slightly technical to acoustic guitar based ballads. Tracks like “When We Pray”, “Messenger”, “Obey” and “ The Day The Rats Went To War” are the tracks that can be safely put in the groove metal category, tracks like “Brother”, “Let You Down” and “This Old Man” are more of the balladic type. Apart from this the album also consists of two covers, Lucretia My Reflection (Sisters Of Mercy Cover) and Patterns (Paul Simon Cover) both of which are done wonderfully well especially the first one and is one of my favorite tracks on this release.
The vocal range of Warrel Dane (which was unimaginable of considering his work with Nevermore) is great too. He embraces his signature heavy, slightly death metal influenced type vocals in the first few tracks and then this same person bursts forth with such a soulful and contrasting voice in ballads like “Let You Down” and “Brother” that you will be nothing short of amazed.
Another thing equally contrasting are the lyrical themes with them ranging from anti-government (When We Pray, The Day The Rats Went To War) to more personal themes including the vocalist’s own childhood (This Old Man, Brother, Let You Down). Not only are the themes contrasting they are well written too. Here are some examples: -
“The world is ruled by fools and thieves
with a flair for power and a taste for greed
now ask yourself do you feel betrayed?
Because nothing ever changes when we pray.” – When We Pray
“I love to wear this foolish crown
of suffering and empty dignity” – Let You Down
“If I could erase, one moment of pain,
I'd throw away everything even fame,
If I could play god, do you know what I'd do?
I'd swim to your blood and cure the cancer in you” – Brother
Dane also manages to create a dream array of guest musicians, which consist of fellow band mate Jeff Loomis (who plays the guitar solo on the second track “Messenger”), and progressive/fusion guitarist James Murphy (who plays the solo on the track “The Day The Rats Went To War”).
This is overall a great debut album and is highly recommended to everyone reading this. This album is not ground breaking but it also isn’t weak and because of the versatility on this album there will almost always be a track that will suit your mood. Apart from the tracks “Equilibrium” and “Obey” all the other tracks are great.
Solo efforts by frontmen in well-established metal bands often tend to stick quite closely to the formula of their parent outfit, and while superficially that may appear to be the case with Nevermore singer Warrel Dane's first venture out on his own, closer inspection reveals a rather bold CD of some depth and divergence.
Probably born from the security of still having his main band there as a reference point, Dane and his collaborators have crafted a well-rounded, though slightly frustrating first effort that presents something quite different to anything he has worked on before. What has to be remembered is that when a vocalist who does not write music comes to record a solo CD is that he is only as good as those he surrounds himself with.
Compare Bruce Dickinson's 'Skunkworks' CD with 'Accident of birth', for example – no harm to Alex Dickson (actually, scratch that, he's since been seen hanging around Robbie Williams...), but he's simply no Roy Z. Warrel Dane is without doubt one of the most unique and poetic vocalists in metal today, and while he experiments with some new vocal styles here and there (check out that gothic baritone on "Your chosen misery") the entire CD of course hinges on the actual music, where credit and indeed some scorn must go to those responsible.
The main songwriting partner Dane has chosen for 'Praises to the war machine' can be seen as quite a controversial move - guitarist Peter Wichers is of course best remembered for his time with Gothenburg pace-matchers turned mallrats Soilwork. A couple of years out of his old band, Wichers has clearly taken a shot at writing something a little different, but is unfortunately responsible for quite a few parts of the CD that reek of that most dreaded of platitudes; 'modern'.
It is maybe not as surprising as it may initially sound that the best songs on the CD are in fact the softer and more reflective ones. With these efforts Wichers and Dane have branched off in a few different directions out of keeping with their past efforts. The less satisfactory moments on 'Praises to the war machine' usually come in the heavier songs, which too often rely on simplistic grooves and come off as a more straightforward and digestible version of Nevermore. The Seattle titans have, of course, always been a very contemporary-minded band, but have always kept their integrity intact by remaining a continuation of traditional metal rather than a dilution of it.
After the pleasing opener "When we pray" comes a pairing of songs that set the alarm bells ringing on the first listen. "Messenger" and "Obey" are probably the 2 weakest tracks on the CD. The former is far too repetitive and groovy, though Dane's performance on the chorus and a guest solo from Jeff Loomis save it from complete failure, while "Obey" is just too much of an empty throwaway to win any plaudits. "Messenger" in fact is more or less sets the pattern for the more crunchy songs – the vocals are as excellent as always, but the guitar playing is often a let down. This is no better evidenced than on "The day the rats went to war" which opens on a completely hideous nu-metal chug before the chorus and a blinding James Murphy guest solo restore at least some degree of sanity.
Things don't really get properly going until the 4th track and the first of 2 cover songs on the CD, a metal version of Sisters of Mercy's goth classic "Lucretia my reflection". Perfectly rearranged by 2nd guitarist Matt Wicklund, it is an upbeat and inspired take on what was already a good song, and gives the CD a kick just as it was threatening to lag.
The finest moments on 'Praises to the war machine', however, really come to the fore when the distortion pedal is put away and Dane gets a little reflective. The most powerful moments come in these songs, especially the bitter, aching "Brother", an ode to Dane's wayward elder sibling. The line "If I could erase, one moment of pain, I'd throw away everything, even fame" in particular is just pure, caustic emotion that a lesser vocalist could not even come close to matching.
"This old man", another piece of beautiful melancholy that would have made a more fitting closer than the Gothenburg-inspired "Equilibrium" (surely a better choice for 2nd or 3rd track?) contains another such spine-tingling outburst in the final verse... it really is powerful stuff, and Dane's personal investment in the lyrics is both obvious and saddening.
"Let you down" and "Your chosen misery", lyrically tied, are a pair of keyboard and acoustic guitar-augmented songs of cynical, yet tender lyrics that show a more personal and introspective side to Dane's writing that would be out of place in his main band. The first half of the latter, before the electric guitars are broken out for a staggering finale, is in fact so soothing and meditative that it could be mistaken for something like an early Radiohead song.
With moments as outstanding as this outnumbering the more lunk-headed groove riffing found on a few songs, 'Praises to the war machine' is without doubt a triumph, though not one without a few stumbles along the way. Warrel Dane has shown a more pensive side to himself that could not be displayed in Nevermore, while Peter Wichers has gone at least some way to restoring some lost credibility. It is mildly exasperating that the levels of quality found on the high points couldn't be sustained across all 11 tracks, but this first solo venture remains a must-buy for fans of Nevermore and those who appreciate some intense sorrow in their music.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
As a Nevermore fan I was looking forward to hear what this album had to offer. Warrel Dane has a big knack for memorable melodies and I'm definitely curious regarding his role and importance in Nevermore's songwriting. However, the lineup addition of ex-Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers had me worried about the rhythm guitars. This guy composed mallcores riffs and Pantera grooves in a faster pace than even the worst Roadrunner acts during his last years in Soilwork.
"When We Pray" sets the pace immediately with some seriously malicious vocals by our hero. It's quite a spiteful and negative song both lyrically and in terms of mood featuring a fantastic chorus. Warrel's vocal work is of high class and drives the whole song with precision. The underlying riffs are also good enough to support the song. Nothing spectacular, but it's a solo album so I assume the vocals should dominate. Positive surprise.
"Messenger" delivers yet another fantastic chorus. Sadly it's disrupted by an intro riff that must be something unheard since Slipknot's "Iowa". One of the most overt shit riffs that ever grated my ears. Yes, it has a (in nu-metal terms) technical ending but so what? This was my biggest fear. Peter Wichers sure took some Soilwork with him. At least Jeff Loomis comes in with a guest guitar solo and adds some class. Could've been the best tune on here considering the chorus and the verse toward the end.
The highlight here as expected is Warrel's voice. He tries out some styles never heard before as well as his classic majestic highs. It's often the verses that brings something new such as mellow almost spoken vocals or low pitched ones. For the choruses he brings out the big drama from Nevermore. This is a smart move, because it brings both innovation as well as a sense of familiarity. Another thing that differs from Nevermore is the level of depth lyrically. These songs seem very personal and rendered from life experience. "Brother" is an obvious example.
A downside here are the three tracks that I consider throwaways. "Obey", "Patterns" and "The Day The Rats Went To War" fail to make lasting marks. Hence the albums drops from very good to good. The reason is often lack of inspiration in the guitar department. The main riff in "Obey" doesn't, hopefully, get even the most starved listener excited. In lack of a better word it's just really redundant. Why they put that tune as number three I will never understand. "Patterns" delivers a similar set of useless guitarwork with a start and stop riff with true Pantera vibe to it. No Warrel can make up for that. I still expected the guitars to ruin more tracks.
Compared to Nevermore I think this is exactly what Warrel wanted to achieve. All the songs have a main aim of being memorable and structured rather than technically proficient. He's definitely proved himself. This is well over my expectations. Solid album.
First solo album from Nevermore's singer Warrel Dane, and this is surprisingly good album. I was a little bit skeptic about this album as I was waiting that this would sound a lot like Soilwork - which is a band that I never got into - as all the other members but Dane are or have been in Soilwork, but for my liking this sounds very little like Soilwork, although there is some small resembles.
Comparing "Praises To The War Machine" to Nevermore, there is very little similarities. The music is less technical, less guitar oriented and not as heavy. Music on "Praises To The War Machine" is more grooving, a lot more vocal centered and more catchy than Nevermore, Dane's voice is actually the only bigger similarity to Nevermore. In my opinion that is a good thing, as there really isn't any sense to make a side project which sounds just like the main band.
Most of the songs seem to be written around Dane's vocals, which makes Dane's voice sound more relaxed than on any Nevermore or Sanctuary album, and that is a good thing in a way. But because of sounding more relaxed he's voice lost some of it's "venom" that he has on Nevermore albums.
Music varies from heavier songs like "Messenger" (Jeff Loomis plays a solo on this songs), "Equilibrium" and "The Day The Rats Went To War" (James Murphy is playing a solo on this song) to more balladish songs like "Let You Down", "Your Chosen Misery" and "This Old Man". For some reason this album seems to be at it's best on the calmer songs. Surprising thing was that both of the cover songs that this album has - "Lucretia My Reflection" which is The Sisters Of Mercy cover and "Patterns" which is Paul Simon cover - were good.
Whole band does a good job here. Warrel Dane's singing is great. Guitar work by Peter Wichers and Matt Wicklund is good. Neither one does anything truly groundbreaking but they don't do anything bad either. Both of them also plays bass on this album. Dirk Verbeuren does a good job on drums, but like the guitarists, he doesn't do anything groundbreaking.
The weakest thing on this album is the production. It's far away from a bad production, but the drum sound is at times a bit thin. Otherwise I have nothing to complain about the production.
"Praises To The War Machine" is a great album, but if you are waiting that this would sound like Nevermore you will probably be disappointed. The only bigger minus is actually the drum sound, otherwise there really isn't any big problems.
Highlights: "When We Pray", "Your Chosen Misery", "The Day The Rats Went To War", "Brother", "This Old Man" and the limited edition bonus song "Everything Is Fading"