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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.