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Transcendent Power/Thrash Ecstasy - 94%

Zod, December 21st, 2018
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Century Media Records (US edition)

An amazing album that did a great job of evolving the power metal and thrash genres in a very creative way. “Politics” takes a dose of Pantera for aggression and a dose of death metal for tonal dissonance, while still retaining the great riffiness of thrash and the great vocal melodies of power metal. I don’t think that particular combination has ever been done more effectively than on this release.

The songwriting, riffs, and vocal melodies are very powerful. The strongest tracks here to my ears are "Next in Line", "Passenger", and "The Tiananmen Man". I think this band deserves a lot of credit for not relying on clichés from decades past. It's clear that Warrel Dane is singing about things he really believes in here from his passionate delivery. The drumming is high-quality throughout.

This album might appeal to fans of Forbidden "Distortion".

I subtracted a few points over a few issues. First of all, let me be clear that I don't believe any album is perfect. I believe there is always room for improvement for musicians to strive for. My rating reflects that belief. The terrible album cover doesn't do justice to the brilliance within. I also would not have begun the album with "Seven Tongues of God" as it is not one of the best songs on the album. It messes up the flow of the disc. Also, after "The Tiananmen Man" is starts to feel a lot like filler but by then they have already offered something very impressive. These points are relatively minor however considering the number of things “The Politics of Ecstasy” does well, and I consider this album to be a gem of 90’s metal.

Something Missing? Maybe or maybe not. - 85%

Mr Matt, April 25th, 2018

I was very impressed with Nevermore's second album, "The Politics Of Ecstasy". It is considerably better and darker than their debut album, the self-titled "Nevermore". Nevermore has such style and skill and I am glad they pumped it up here. They do such a good job showing their different sound and style. Jeff Loomis has improved the most since the first album definitely.

In my review of "Nevermore", I said that while the guitar solos were excellent, I couldn't give the title of 'impeccable' to it? Well, I can give that title to the guitar solos in "The Politics Of Ecstasy". That is one of the main reasons I liked this album better than the previous. Jeff Loomis just does a lot more in this album.

This album is quite considerably dark, something Nevermore is known for. We can start by looking at the album cover. Nuff said about that. Then, in the last seconds of "The Seven Tongues Of God", there is a spoken line after the song is finished which speaks, "If God didn't exist, it would be necessary for man to make one." But definitely the most chilling part was in the last song on the album, "The Learning", there is about a 5 minute silence around 9:40 to 14:36 after the song ends. Then, an eerie voice creeps in and talks about many subjects revolving around freedom and ecstasy. There's quite a bit of it so I won't quote the whole thing.

In closing, also about my review of the album previous to "The Politics Of Ecstasy", you might see me say that there was something missing. Well, the guitar solos on this album cleared that up a bit, but there's still just something missing. I've been thinking about this for quite a while, and I think I know what is 'missing'. Nevermore has influences from the music around it at the time, which was the 90's. So now that I think of it, perhaps it's not something that is missing, but rather something that maybe should be taken out. However, maybe this is just the band's style. After all, I really like Nevermore and maybe I should reconsider if there really is something missing.

An underrated gem of the 90s - 98%

Writhingchaos, March 17th, 2018

My first reaction when I saw the other reviews of the albums was “Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with all of you people?” In case, you’re still wondering, this is with regard to a ton of negative reviews that this album has been getting of late. I mean, sure, everyone has different musical tastes and all that which I totally get, but saying that it’s an absolutely shit album with no redeeming factors? I mean, what album are you even listening to?! Geez. Make no mistake folks, this is seriously one underrated gem in the Nevermore catalogue. “This Sacrament” is one hell of a groove monster with one of the catchiest intro riffs I’ve heard in quite a while along with “Lost” being a snappy post-thrasher that is bound to get your neck snapping in no time.

To all of you spewing hate about this album’s ‘supposed’ mallcore tendencies, get your ears checked and kindly shut the fuck up. Seriously. To give you an apt example, Sepultura and Machine Head’s mid 90s albums were mallcore. This is balls-out metal with plenty of post-thrash influences in the riffing. If you can’t tell the difference between the two, then that’s your problem. Period. Additionally, to anyone who had their doubts about Jeff Loomis being a guitar god in his own right, listen to any song on this album and be floored. Not many top-notch guitarists out there can boast of being able to write kickass riffs AND solos, but he is most certainly one of them. Period. For the best example, check out the classic “Next In Line” (one heck of a chorus) “Precognition” (certainly one of the most unique instrumentals the band has ever done) as well as the face-melting ferocity of “The Tiananmen Man” (one of their most politically charged songs with some of the best lyrics of the band and a finger-peeling solo by Loomis).

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the album itself. As most of you would be aware, this was the last album to feature guitarist Pat O’Brien before he would move on to more brutal pastures with Cannibal Corpse. With him at the guitar helm along with Loomis, it is clear that this album has a much darker and more brutal tone than the other albums. Rarely again has the death metal aspect (a smidgeon of influence, if you will) of the music of Nevermore been so prominent and obvious. Plus on their other albums, the guitar tone was more polished whereas on this one, it is dirty and raw portraying the sheer fury of the band perfectly. Sure, Nevermore have never been referred to as “death metal”, But I think it’s safe to say that this is their heaviest album, delivering pummeling riffs and solos left right with the sole exception being the epic “Passenger”. This features one of the best clean vocal performances of Warren not to mention a boatload of doomy riffs along with a killer guitar lead bit kicking in at 0:35 that repeats throughout the song.

While Dreaming Neon Black was overflowing with bitterness and a somber tone, on this album, the doomy vibe is mixed with a relentlessly groovy death metal guitar attack that clearly shows that these guys were exceptionally fucking pissed off back then. Sure, This Godless Endeavor and even Enemies Of Reality portrayed that very anger to a certain extent, but not with this level of brutality and doom influence in the guitars. One can’t say that Nevermore were never groovy, but the groove-laden elements mixed with the more abrasive death metal elements certainly gives this album a unique edge over their other releases. You only have to listen to the pounding title track for further proof with a heavier dose of dissonance in the guitars as compared to their other songs plus a powerful searing performance from Warrel Dane. “42147” is probably one of the most straightforward thrash songs my Neveremore with a healthy dose of melody.

With regard to Loomis, the opener “The Seven Tongues Of God” proves that fact in spades with one hell of a catchy main riff as well as a doomy bridge interlude. Sure, Loomis always had that dissonant edge in his lead guitar playing, but it’s safe to say that on this album, it is even more prominent than ever. Even though I fucking adore the healthy mix of melody and dissonance on the later Nevermore albums, the leads and solos on this album add a much more abrasive and harsher dimension to the band’s sound mirroring the sheer lyrical disgust of how dirty politics seems to have shaped our world in more ways than one. Each and every one of us are inexplicably feeding the dirt and politics of the system and we hardly even realize it. People like to point to “Enemies Of Reality” being their angriest record, but I honestly think that this album clearly knocks it out of the park in that regard.

And sure, I totally get the fact that the vocals of Warrel Dane (R.I.P) may be a bit of a turn off for people not accustomed to his vocal style before. Believe me when I say that when I first started listening to Nevermore, I was one of those very people myself, simply unable to fully enjoy the music due to my inability to appreciate and enjoy his unique style of vocals. Not to mention the fact that on this album, his vocals are even more inaccessible compared to their other releases. However, repeated listens converted me into a fan of his vocal style. So do be patient and give it time to sink in. And if you still don’t like it…well that’s just your loss I’m afraid. On this note, I have to say that “The Learning” is one of the most ambitious prog songs by Nevermore starting off on a soft and bitter note only to erupt into an avalanche of searing riffs with some stunning solos by Loomis as well. Check out that incredible riff progression kick off at 3:24. Fucking sick. Yes, the parallels to this epic and “This Godless Endeavor” are undeniable indeed.

At the end of the day, this is a kickass metal album that any fan of thrash, death, groove or progressive metal should dig. As far as the definitive Nevermore album, you can be sure of the fact that this is right up there with Dreaming Neon Black and This Godless Endeavor as one of their best. If you are yet to hear it, you are seriously missing out. Pick it up now!

It’s Politically Correct to Have Poe as a Mentor - 91%

bayern, June 15th, 2017

Sanctuary were a big thing among my friends and fellow metalheads so I had to try them out one day. I liked them, but not to such a big extent as I found other representatives of the US power metal scene more appealing like Riot, Helstar, Attacker, Crimson Glory, etc., and I kind of developed some dislike to them later since a close friend of mine was perennially playing the “Future Tense” video every time I happened to drop by his house.

It was in this guy’s house that I saw the “What Tomorrow Knows” video a few years later; the same inordinately long-haired guy only playing a somewhat more dynamic form of doom. “Is this the new Sanctuary?”, I ask. “No; that’s Nevermore”. In other words, farewell Logan; hello Edgar…

So when the Nevermore debut arrived in the shops, I naturally had to buy the cassette and listen to it, and again I liked it, but not to such an extent that I couldn’t sleep until the album reviewed here appeared. I found it a more or less natural progression from the last Sanctuary effort only that Warrel Dane had lost the higher registers somewhere, to these ears for the better. So I passed on these “Politics” at first, and only gave them a listen a year after their release, and only because a friend of mine gave it to me, persuading me somehow that it would definitely be something I would like. Well, the continuation of the Sanctuary sound with an even darker, doomier twist was hardly my perfect idea about musical entertainment. What also annoyed me back then was that the band became pretty much a mandatory listen for the majority of the 90’s fanbase, something like the epitome of true metal amidst the groovy/aggro/post-thrashy 90’s., the celebrated heroes of the 90’s who had all the right ingredients and pedigree to be crowned as such: the sequel to an 80’s legend, an entire product of the new decade, and an encompassing sound that captured the essence of several genres… the new Metallica, anyone?

Status-wise they came really close to the Four Horsemen, not nearly as close when it comes to revenue, though; and I have to admit that in terms of quality they weren’t too far behind, either; not far behind at all… So I was glad that I eventually checked out this opus, and discovered the pleasant metamorphosis that the guys had experienced under the new moniker. The shadow of Sanctuary was nicely outgrown, and the guys have embarked on a journey through the meandering labyrinths of the modern progressive metal arena with thrash, power and doom metal standing by, always willing to assist whenever needed. So this “political” saga begins with “The Seven Tongues of God” with sharp heavy guitars which know their melodic quirks although the order of the day would be the steam-rolling, very sharp riff-patterns which march onward in a steady mid-paced fashion with Warrel Dane’s vocals commanding the proceedings with an assured clean mid-ranged tenor, nothing high-pitched or overdramatic. “This Sacrament” introduces a more sterile, mechanical guitar sound the dispassionate cold rifforama only interrupted on the intricate lead section with Loomis outstanding as always. “Next in Line” is more than just the next in line track as it brings forward more technical histrionics and a more dynamic delivery, not to mention the memorable chorus pulled by Dane with more pathos. “Passenger” is an atmospheric doomy ballad leaving all the energetic hustle and bustle for the following title-track which is consummate 8-min progressive thrash with clicking/clocking, nearly polyrhythmic rhythms keeping the doomy aesthetics firmly in place until a fabulous technical passage mid-way gives an entirely new perspective to the whole opus recalling luminaries like Coroner, Deathrow and Realm, lasting for several minutes, raising the album on a higher pedestal.

“Lost” is “lost” in crushing abrasive riffage which again leaves room for more original, more technical guitar work the latter hitting the top again without leaving the mid-tempo parametres. “The Tiananmen Man” is another more ambitious progressive number the guys speeding up on occasion with more melodic escapades flying around and surreal spacey tapestries adding more to the more dramatic approach. Time for something livelier, some may say, and “42147” arrives with all the moshing grandeur, with impetuous gallops rushing forward reminding of the US power/speed metal movement, not so much Sanctuary though, with impressive more tranquil moments and dazzling lead sections racing with several more officiant stomping dashes in the second half. “The Learning” is the behemoth here, and also the closer, an almost 10-min epic which spends more than 2-min in serene balladisms before the band start thrashing harder although the mid-paced confines remain uncrossed; more tranquil elegies are served later as well as more engaging progressive arrangements the guys trying to end this opus with deeper atmospheric undercurrents.

After all, there was a reason for the band’s popularity as with an encompassing sound like this they were able to keep both the old school and the modern metal fans happy, and I can’t think of another act who achieved this in the same way; Overkill nearly did it on their 90’s works, but they kept falling into the groovy “traps” more often than the good taste allowed. With musicians like Jeff Loomis and Jim Sheppard the musical configurations within such a wide palette were infinite, literally; that’s why I’m quite befuddled by the fact that the formula introduced here got repeated on every subsequent album, “This Godless Endeavour” being a slight exception, establishing the Nevermore sound that got frequently imitated through the 90’s and beyond. The flashes of technical genius exhibited on the mentioned songs remained just that, flashes; the guys never attempted a full-blooded exercise in technical thrash for which they by all means possessed all the requisite skills. Obviously that wasn’t their agenda, but more playing around with the technical dexterity could have only heightened their status.

I guess by the release of “The Obsidian Conspiracy” the formula had been depleted in all its various nuances, and a Sanctuary reunion seemed like the most logical step. With nearly the entire line-up from the 80’s available, it wasn’t a surprise that the new instalment sounded similar to the past exploits, but that was probably for the better as the band recaptured their dark sombre sound with a shade of the Nevermore sterile shredding echoing in the background more or less tangibly. Will the guys attempt working on both fronts the way King Diamond and others have in the past? They’ll have to see what their wise mentor all these years Edgar Allan Poe has to say about that; he won’t lie about how viable a potential rivalry between him and Logan would be in the new millennium.

The Royal Seal Of Gayness (7th in class) - 10%

hells_unicorn, September 7th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Century Media Records

Sacred cows, be they made of gold or meat, are best when ground up into small pieces and then force fed to those that worship them. There is perhaps a tinge of irony involved in using this analogy in reference to Nevermore, a band that sort of planted their flag on bitching about politics and religion, yet struggled to write a decent song while doing so, but it is profitable to turn the tables on these would be iconoclasts in the name of better music. As a band that was at the forefront of defeating the purpose of good musicianship, these Seattle based wannabe rebels started on a tame yet somewhat respectable note with their somewhat backward looking debut self-titled album, so their true genesis as a force for modernity in the present sense lay somewhere between that album and what came later, though most tend to point to the 1996 EP In Memory that preceded their sophomore effort as the point of germination. Whatever the case, the changeover was fully accomplished with The Politics Of Ecstasy, actually so much to a fault that the plunge is far more gut-wrenching than the one that happened with Robb Flynn between the last Vio-Lence album Nothing To Gain and Burn My Eyes.

Unpacking the sound of this album is actually a bit tricky because it does come with a fair degree of intricacy, albeit in areas that are canceled out by the style's base elements, much like the sweet flavor of a cake's frosting being destroyed by the cake itself being comprised of rat excrement. The label of "progressive" groove metal is not an exercise in false advertising, as there is a heavy degree of technical interplay between the rhythm section and the guitars, and the riff work shows sporadic signs of fanciness here and there. Jeff Loomis' credentials as a formidable precision shredder were about as evident in the mid-90s as they've been in recent years, and fellow guitarist Pat O'Brien (who would go on to greener pastures with Cannibal Corpse) ushers in a respectable contribution, resulting in a sound that is chunky, and even occasionally thrashing. But for the occasional bright spots in the instrumental department, the meat and potatoes of this album's formula is punishingly stagnant and slavishly repetitive. But the true coup de grâce of ruination visited upon this well-polished modern turd is Warrel Dane's newly adopted melodramatic vocal style, sounding somewhere between a constipated Geoff Tate and a geriatric Phil Anselmo, the latter being no small feat for a man in his mid 30s.

Putting aside the overbearing ravings of the 15 year old girl with the voice of a 60 year old chain-smoker to consider the nuts and bolts of each song, however, it becomes clear that even a more respectable vocal offering out of Dane on par with Into The Mirror Black would not have rescued this album. The proof is in the hypnotic pudding that is most of the "shorter" songs on here (very few of these songs clock in at under five minutes, and even those ones sound horrendously overlong), such as the wannabe grooving thrasher of an opener "The Seven Tongues Of God". Here stands an exercise in a song that starts off with a handful of decent riffs and rhythmic twists, but never closes the deal and proceeds to stagnate on a hyper-repetitive riff fragment and allow Dane's drama-queen vocal antics to completely deflate the song. The final come away from this thing is a song that had little staying power apart from Van Williams' drum work, which has generally been this band's strong suit apart from Loomis' solos. This song is surprisingly the best thing to be found on here, as the remaining shorter bangers exhibit the same stagnation but without the reasonably engaging intro material, with "Passenger" taking it a step further by dragging the tempo down to a doom-like crawl yet possessing the same mechanical and anti-atmospheric quality that defines the 90s version of modern metal.

But for all the massive shortcomings of mid-paced plodders with little sense of growth like "Next In Line" and "The Tienanmen Man" that seem to cater solely to the ultra-preachy lyrics and annoying, out-of-tune bellows under the guise of vocals, the real pinnacles of sucking are reserved for the two massively bloated and underdeveloped "epic" numbers that are trotted out as attempts at merging their groove sound with a Dream Theater songwriting approach. The first disaster of an attempt at this is the title song "The Politics Of Ecstasy", which stretches out a singular groove stomp that sounds like a bad reject from The Great Southern Trendkill way too long, and then diverges into a thrashing mid-section where things start to get moderately interesting, then drifts off into clashing jazz and groove beats that deflates the build up. Props should be given to Jim Sheppard's bass work here, which is extremely fancy and actually measures up to the technical capabilities of Loomis and Williams, but as a song these individually impressive moments fade into the ether of incongruity and vanishes for another round of plodding before all is said and done. The second and even longer epic "The Learning" replaces the repetitive Pantera riff approach with a foray into atmospheric balladry mixed with some of the quicker ideas found on the stronger opening song. There are a few moments of fleeting goodness, but nothing that can hold a candle to the overall confusion in structure and Dane's revolting vocals.

When measured against the respectable past of most of the musicians involved, The Politics Of Ecstasy is about as far of a nosedive into the bottom of the barrel as could have occurred. They end up differing from most of their contemporaries a bit at this point in history in that they seemed a bit more keen in trying to mix water with oil by showering a general stagnant style with frequent changes and technical gimmicks, rather than just going for as plain and accessible for a sound as possible. That's actually the most bizarre aspect of this pile of sonic debris, in spite of its general stylistic trappings, it's not something tailored for consumption by mass media, but more of a sort of non-conformist niche that was popular enough to be lumped in with a larger market. But at the end of the day, it's a piss poor product that highlights one of the most terrible vocal displays by a singer who at one time displayed a level of competence and flair that rivaled Rob Halford. To this day this album is held as a grand achievement that bucked the trend of the day in some quarters, and such belief is ironically possible only by exhibiting the same cult behavior that Warrel Dane would spend much of his latter days railing against, in a voice not fit to be heard, of course.

The Definitive Nevermore Album - 99%

UroboricForms, December 17th, 2007

Nevermore have never been known for following in the footsteps of others. Quite the opposite, the Seattle-born outfit seems to make a deliberate point with each release that they will continue to progress on the unique path they have created.

The Politics of Ecstasy is the second full length release by Nevermore. This would be the last album to feature rhthym guitarist Pat O'Brien, as he was recruited by Cannibal Corpse to record Gallery of Suicide. O'Brien's death metal background contributes to making this one of the heaviest albums out there. One question you might ask about this album is "What makes this so special? It can't be classic." First, this is the album that Nevermore really captured their true sound. This is thrash as it hasn't been properly done in years, mixed with a progressive element that makes this one of my favorite albums of all time. And what makes this album so heavy after all? Controlled Brutality, Organized Chaos if you will. The feel of this record is similar to putting Rust In Peace, Tomb of the Mutilated, and Heartwork in a blender. You've got Thrashy riffs, Death Metal delivery, and Melodic solos, respectively.

Every band has a fanboy. You probably know at least one. That guy who thinks "X band can do no wrong, X band is perfect!" Well, I won't go that far, because Nevermore does have its flaws, but let me say, they're few and far between on this record. Most people who have listened to Nevermore have one common complaint: the vocals. Warrel Dane's voice is indescribable. His clean and operatic style stole my ears from the moment I heard Nevermore, though most seem to be annoyed by his voice. Whether you approve of the vocals or not, Warrel Dane is an invaluable piece of the Nevermore puzzle, especially on this record. His lyrical contributions are superb, and like many Nevermore records, this one has an underlying theme. [This is not a concept album, however.]

The Politics of Ecstasy was named after a book by the Timothy Leary. The book's first chapter is called The Seven Tongues of God. Fittingly, the album kicks off with a track of the same name. Nevermore records always start heavy, and this one is no exception. The whole song is furious, every riff is relentless, and Jeff Loomis manages (as always) to leave a fantastic solo behind in his chaotic wake. Warrel definitely has a unique vocal style, and I would say that this track would be a highlight of his ability to use that to his advantage. As a guitar player, I am usually less than concerned with the rhythm sections of most of my favorite bands, but Nevermore's Jim Sheppard and Van Williams make it clear from the onset of the album that they have no intention of fading into the mix. Sheppard's bass is mixed rather well, and The Seven Tongues of God is just one example of his prowess. Lyrically, I interpret the meaning of the songs to focus on four main themes. Perception, Mentality, Government, and Society. Warrel's powerful poetic abilities are prevalent throughout the album, especially on the title track.

Nevermore albums are usually difficult to digest upon first listen due to the fact that there is always so much going on. However, The Politics of Ecstasy features a few songs that are relatively easy to groove on, and I would say these are: The Seven Tongues of God, Next In Line, and the Tianenmen Man. Let me put it this way, if Nevermore had a best-of album, those three would probably make an appearance on it. For the remaining songs, it may take a few spins to get into the groove of the tracks, but it is an experience I highly recommend.

My personal classification for Nevermore would probably be progressive thrash. This title is most aptly fitting for tracks like Lost, 42147, and The Learning. The entire album features nonstop technicality without sacrificing brutality and heaviness. Solo after ungodly solo is laid down by the relatively unknown guitar god Jeff Loomis. His lead work throughout the album is melodic, and he is a master of fitting the leads to the work with the rest of the song. The whole album has a twisted, deranged feel to it, and his solos express this perfectly. For example, the intro riff to Lost is one fine example of what I'm talking about here. Another aspect of this album that places it head and shoulders above the rest is balance. In the midst of the chaos that is The Politics of Ecstasy, Nevermore found the perfect niche for a power ballad, The Passenger, and a brief instrumental, Precognition. The latter displays more emotion and taste within its short two-minute length than most albums.

A perfect example of Dane's awe-inspiring lyrics would most likely be The Tiananmen Man. This track is about the events that took place in 1989, when a man challenged his native Communist government in China. The theme of this song fits perfectly with the concept of the whole album, and just when the intensity climaxes, Precognition's beautiful acoustic calming melody sweeps in. Nevemore seems determined at this point to wow the listener, and they accomplish this goal quite successfully. The final two tracks are probably the most magnificent of the album, especially The Learning.

The journey brings us now to one of the most unique songs in the Nevermore catalog:42147 (See my username). This one is a perfect example of Nevermore's uncanny ability to save the best for last, and it features a balance of extremely heavy guitar parts over fantastic and progressive "transitioning" sections. Overall, the song is indescribable. Unfortunately, Nevermore's magnum opus had to come to an end somewhere, yet The Learning proves to be the perfect spot to terminate this wild experience. This is definitely my favorite Nevemore song. An acoustic intro is followed by some of the most brutal riffs Nevemore have ever forged. Throughout the song, Jeff Loomis once again finds the perfect niche for two awe-inspiringly tasteful solos. All too soon, The Politics of Ecstasy comes to a close.

This is the Definitive Nevermore album, and indispensable in my CD collection.

Overlong and Inconsistent - 68%

DawnoftheShred, October 19th, 2007

Even as an ardent critic of the modern metal scene, I still have a hard time discerning what it is about Nevermore that warrants the mountainous aversion to them. Granted, their second album The Politics of Ecstasy is probably their weakest and least rewarding album to date, but it still trumps the legion of metalcore newbs that the music press continues to herald. That said, I stil can't give this album too much credit, as its quite unfocused and inconsistent for a member of this band's catalogue.

With Politics, all ties with bassist Jim Sheppard's and singer Warrel Dane's previous band Sanctuary have been severed. There's a few riffs that bear a passing resemblence to thrash, but most of this is modern metal to the bone. As such, the production is far beyond saturated, the guitars are slick and modern, and the drumming tends to be somewhat mechanical, even with Van Williams' knack for little progressivisms. Sheppard's bass is still relevant, but is often drowned out by the bludgeoning guitars. And those guitars are pretty unmoving 80% of the time, aiming for overt heaviness and dissonance rather than melody or originality. By this description, Nevermore vary little from the onslaught of modern garbage that's floating around. There are really only three things that differentiate them (on this album anyway). Firstly, the haunting clean vocals of Warrel Dane, though quite inferior and at times mallcorish when compared to their other releases, are still way more original than if he were utilizing some random hardcore shouting or psuedo-death growls. Secondly, the guitar tandem of Jeff Loomis and Pat O'Brien, while failing in the riff department, still provide some top-notch leadwork to partly make up for it. And thirdly, the complex lyrics on the album delve into all kinds of elements; political unrest, artificial intelligence, self-reflection, and metaphysics. Usually I would be lauding this band for providing some interesting lyrics, but the many angry metaphors on here come off as alienating. Lyrical themes appear and recirculate as the album progresses, but any collective concept remains a mystery. I little coherence goes a long way in my book. But anyway, that leaves only one of the three original aspects of this album truly delivering the goods; the rest content to make a mockery of one of modern metal's few respectable institutions.

Another problem that plagues this album is repetition. The individual songs on here lack character, allowing them to blend right into their surroundings like a musical chameleon. Things actually start out okay. Opener "The Seven Tongues of God" has a legitimately heavy opening sequence before becoming a mediocre groove track, much like many of the others. It is also the first track to overstay its welcome length-wise, another recurring problem. There are two long tracks, "The Politics of Ecstacy" and closer "The Learning," and both are about five minutes too long. The good ideas presented encompass but a fraction of the song's length, leaving lots of space to fill. "Passenger" is dragged out on purpose to good effect, but many of these songs would be better if they were a bit more concise.

But despite all these hurdles, a few decent numbers still manage to break through. "Next in Line" features a good performance from Dane, as well as a tense atmosphere. "The Tiananmen Man" is also in this vein and is probably the best track on here. The other contender is Jeff Loomis' instrumental "Precognition," a brief acoustic/electric tune that brings the image of classic western films to mind. Finally, "42147" has the best riffs in the house, being somewhat power/speed metally in nature.

I can still listen to this at times, but it's far too inconsistent to be recommended, especially if you maintain a distaste for this band or modern metal in general.

An exercise in not ripping out your eardrums - 5%

Empyreal, October 10th, 2007

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.

The circle never ends - 100%

Starkweather222000, November 23rd, 2005

The circle never ends….the purpose never changes face….the learning now begins…
These words would be just enough to describe the majesty of this album. But we chose the hard road, to review in cold words this heartbeating anthem of modern music. Off we go, then.
1996, one year after the beginning of the latter Warrel legacy called Nevermore, the guys from Seattle gathered forces again, also came in touch with former death metal guitarist Pat O’Brien and proceeded to record one of the best albums of the 90’s. “The Politics Of Ecstasy” is a magnificent work of rock music, and it is surely the one that set Nevermore as the hottest prospect for the second half of the nineties.
The first and foremost that you notice about this album, is Warrel. This glorious vocalist/frontman from Seattle makes once again the difference and sets the score too high for the competition. Like a chameleon, he switches styles and voices like only Geoff Tate does (no comparison of course, completely different vocalists). Sometimes he sounds like a fragile wreck in a raging sea; yet some others he is the raging storm itself. The guy is exceptionally talented in a way that seems unfair for other metal singers. His lyrics also are once again, as in their debut, just history. Psychedelic, political, social, personal, no matter what subject or style he chooses to write, he delivers the goods.
And then of course, it’s the band. Van Williams and his pounding double bass style combined with marvellous rolls and rides along with Jim Sheppard and his bulldoze-like sounding basslines make a rhythm section that many thrash/death bands would like to have. Jeff Loomis, joining forces with a guitarist famous for his monstrous sound, Pat O’Brien, gains points in riffing techniques and their combined work sets the album off to a higher level.
Everything inside the album, starting from the classic riff of “The Seven Tongues Of God” (which, by the way, is probably the most sophisticated yet edgy anti-christian song ever written) right until the final sighs of “The Learning” is sheer quality. Don’t spend time on the rather mediocre picture cover, open the jewel case and see one of the best layouts ever done in a metal album. “Wake up – your rights are gone”, while the surprised eyes gaze you in a really mesmerizing way.
Highlights of this album in my opinion are a really hard matter. Phew….yeah, after all, real classics have no highlights. And this is exactly the case here. A real metal classic, one of those that all songs are of extraordinary quality. You can make no exceptions on this one. Choking on the puke of their industry, regurgitated propaganda ministry…Acid words in an ultra album, an album that most bands would like for a swansong, yet for Warrel and his comrades, it was just the beginning of a majestic career.

Nevermore at Their Angriest - 83%

pinpals, October 17th, 2005

Coming off of their mild success and good reviews of their self-titled debut, Nevermore released "The Politics of Ecstacy," an album that finds Nevermore at their angriest, and also their most political. This album was rhythm guitarist Charlie O'Brien's last with the band, before he left to join Cannible Corpse. O'Brien's guitar sound reminds me a lot of Jon Schaffer's on "Burnt Offerings;" as Nevermore had not yet incorperated the 7-string into their sound. Except for "Seven Tongues of God" and "42147," Jeff Loomis plays a very limited role; his soloing is pretty simple and short.

The lyrics are very political, but not really anything great. "The Tiananmen Man" starts off well; I thought it would make some great point about that whole incident, but really all it says is that the guy in front of the tank knew that he wouldn't be killed because the media was watching. "The Learning" is actually only about ten minutes, then a few minutes of silence, then a short semi-song that seems pointless. The song itself is decent, good riffing, but nothing great. The same goes for the title track, which is long, but does not leave much of an impact. "The Passanger" could be classified as doom metal, not because it sounds as much like Candlemass, but it's slow and the riff is so depressing, and the guitar solo is so emotional. There is a feeling on this song unlike anything Nevermore has done before or since. Great song. "Next in Line" is a favorite among many fans, but while I will admit the song is good, I don't see what is so great about it. Good chorus. "The Seven Tongues of God" has great tempo changes, and the guitar solo is probably the best on the disc. I'm still not sure what the title "42147" means, but nevertheless, this song has the best instrumentation on the album; the guitar work is so addictive, it stays in my head every time after I listen to it.

This album is has about the same amount of thrash/power metal feel as does Iced Earth's "Burnt Offerings." Not really the best album to get if you are getting into Nevermore, but with out a doubt this is a good album, although they would top this with every successive album afterwards.

The Politics Of Suckstasy - 33%

ultramotion, February 13th, 2005

This is the second most highly praised Nevermore album after 'Dead Heart In A Dead World' and while it has slightly more good ideas than that album, it's still another boring "modern" metal suckfest with nothing that can hold your interest for more than just random split moment.

One of the most praised things on this album other than the vocals of the "magnificent" Warrel Dane is the really heavy almost death metal-like production. While it's not that bad itself, it doesn't work if you're trying to be really heavy, without good songwriting to back it up.

As for the vocals, this time Warrel Dane's voice becomes completely awful all the way. That's not to say he was better on the first Nevermore album. Yes, his vocal performance was weak, but at least he threw in some great falsettos, which saved his voice from being completely awful. But no falsettos are to be found this time. His delivery and range now basically alternate
between dragged out clean whiny vocals and overloud yelled whiny vocals that are not that far removed from mallcore. Honestly he could be the "singer" for KORN and the difference would be roughly the same!

There is only one song on this album that's worth hearing all the way through and that's the number song '42147'. It has very minimal lyrics and it could be considered an instrumental, which it should have been in the first place, because without the vocals it would've been a little better. But even though Warrel Dane is annoying as usual, it's much easier to get past his voice to hear the rest of the song. It's above average midpaced song that flows nicely, goes through a few tempo/riff changes where each one is contributing something to the song, some well done solos there and there, and even a clean guitar interlude in the middle with some spoken vocals is done effectively and serves well as a transition to another slower part of a song. It's an odd number by Nevermore standards, but hey, it WORKS!

Then the rest has some highlights in a few places like in 'Seven Tongues Of God' for example. It starts off with a nice thrashy riff that goes from midpaced to fast. Then everything dies when the song slows down and turns into a boring groovefest of suckitude. A solo in the middle somewhat saves it from being utter shite.

Also songs like 'The Tiananmen Man' just kinda go through the motions. The highlights in it, occur at 1:28 and 2:53 where the solid riffage with decent and well done soloing takes place.

However, the title track is absolutely the worst song on the album ever. Seriously, it could've been on a KORN album for god sake!!! It's that formulaic, stupid and modern. It drags on and on very slowly. You got the dumbfuck plodding groovecore riff that carries the entire song with a droning second guitar in the background, distorted whispered vocals combined with loud shouted whiny vocals that are so fucking awful!!! Then, there is a fast part randomly thrown in the middle that has nothing to do with the rest of the song. Nevertheless, it's a highlight in sea of feces that this song is. It has a nice thrash riff played at a well reasonable fast pace, then some crazy experimental guitar stuff, then the same riff comes back again and it goes to suckage vortex right after the fast part is over. If it wasn't for that fast part, the song itself would've gotten a BIG FAT ZERO. That's how awful it is!

Why must ""singers"" like Warrel be considered one of the best metal vocalists ever???? Heavy metal singers should be considered great for having powerful and energetic voice and ability to sing on-key like Rob Fucken Halford and not for the whiny and angsty emo faggotry shit of Warrel Dane that Nevermore fanboys love to death!!!

The last song 'The Learning' attempts to be epic, but turns into a typical boring Nevermore fare. There is Warrel getting overemotional over an okay clean riff that drags on for too long. Then the song picks up at 2:25. While it does have good riffage ideas, they are often repetative and there is nothing to hold them together. However there is one memorable highlight in this song, which occurs at 5:42. That's where the good riff ideas form into one coherent one minute passage that flows nicely with effective riff changes and nicely done soloing. Then it all turns to shit with annoying distorted vocals at 6:43
and more fucking around.

Not recommended.

The Politics of Excellence - 94%

stefan86, November 12th, 2004

I am and have always since I first heard them been a huge fan of this band. The heavy-out-of-this world riffs, the incredibly intricate lead guitars as well as Warrel Dane's soaring vocals and deep lyrics are the main things that make this band so great. This record, "The Politics of Ecstacy" is quite possible their most Thrash-sounding record together with it's successor "Dreaming Neon Black".

Right at the start of the first track, "The Seven Tongues of God", we get an amazing thrashing section with incredible combinations of drums and guitars. This song is amazing to behold live, or rather headbang your entire spinal chord into splitters to. Great opening track.

Doing a song-by-song review of this would take years, since every song on this album is filled with greatness. I do need to mention some more tracks though.

The title track "The Politics of Ecstacy" is one of the best tracks in Nevermore's discography. Warrel is completely possessed with passion and rage as he belts out the great lyrics on this one. The all-out Thrash attack in the middle section is also amazing. One of Nevermore's heaviest moments.

The very long and epic "The Learning" is my favourite Nevermore track because of it's mix of incredible heavy as well as mellow riffs, with Warrel's amazing lyrics on top. This is in my opinion the perfection of Nevermore's writing formula. Great live track as well.

"Next In Line" as another very good track. This is one of the best vocal performances I ever heard by Warrel, amazing power. The chorus on this one is also very haunting.

Every other track is of high quality as well. "This Sacrament", "Lost", "42147" and "The Tiananmen Man" are quite typical heavy Nevermore tracks, and they're all very good. They would definitely be described as great tracks if they were on an album that didn't feature so many awesome songs. "Passenger" is the most mellow song on this album, but very enjoyable still, as it is quite atmospheric and haunting. Another thing I have to mention about this record is the production. The guitars sound incredibly clear as well as very raw.

This is a great mix of the best elements of Thrash and Power Metal. There are very few things that can top hearing Warrel Dane's assaulting vocals over Jeff Loomis amazing riffing. The real highlight of Nevermore's career is still "Dreaming Neon Black", but that doesn't change the fact that this is a flawless album.

The politics of Nevermore bashing at your skull - 90%

panteramdeth, July 28th, 2004

The Politics Of Ecstasy is Nevermore's second full-length album, and is named after a Timothy Leary book of the same name. Some of Leary's beliefs have found their way into singer Warrel Dane's lyrics, and have been a source of influence for some of his other albums besides this one. Besides the lyrics, this album takes a turn from the power metal sounds of their first album and throws more thrash this time, directly into the listeners ears. But if you think this album is good, wait until you hear their next CD.

The Highlights: It's hard to say that there isn't one song that isn't a highlight, because they abound. "42147", "The Seven Tongues Of God", "This Sacrament", and the title track have some heavy riffwork from both Jeff Loomis and Pat O'Brien (who would later join Cannibal Corpse). The title track in particular, has some moshpit-churning moments, if you will, particularly with the drumming (courtesy of Van Williams) and the thrash-style riffing right around the middle of the song. "The Seven Tongues Of God" and "This Sacrament" are both steady, if not spectacular songs, and "Lost" has some good vocal moments with more tight riffing. The guitar solos on this album are clear and very well-played, and Loomis proves why he is one of metal's most underrated guitarists. "Passenger" and "The Learning" are slower songs, with "The Learning" starting with a haunting opening lead section, and it works into some hallowed Warrel Dane vocals. There is a nice pull-off guitar section at the 34 second mark of "Passenger", before working into a slow, yet steady pace throughout the remainder of the song. Once again, Warrel Dane shines here, as he is one of the best in the business at using emotional-style vocals.

The lowlights: Perhaps "Precognition", which is a very short instrumental that eventually works into "42147". While it's not a bad song, it is nothing worth mentioning, and would probably be considered an "average" track, and not necessarily a "lowlight", seeing how good the rest of the album is. Other than that, there are no bad or even mediocre tracks to be found here.

Who this album's for: Fans of both power and thrash metal, but especially thrash, will find a lot to like about The Politics Of Ecstasy. Perhaps not a pure, true-blue thrash album per se, but even the most demanding fans of that genre should find this album very enjoyable. Also once again, people who are looking for non-grunge music from Seattle might enjoy this as well.

The bottom line: An excellent album with lots of riffs, great vocals, and double-bass drumming in many places, but Nevermore really hits their full stride on the next album, Dreaming Neon Black.