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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.