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Nevermore – Nevermore, In Memory, Politics of Ecstasy (re-masters)

Label: Century Media
Format: CD
Released: 2006
Reviewed By: Rich Catino


"Nevermore" (1995)

 

For those who don’t know about this part of the Heavy Metal family tree, Nevermore was born out of the ashes of a band called Sanctuary who released two excellent album’s, "Refuge Denied" in 1987 and "Into the Mirror Black" in 1990, and whose ranks included Nevermore singer Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard on bass. Sanctuary was promising with their power metal packed debut mixing elements of traditional and speed metal followed by the darker more dynamic "Into the Mirror Black", an album who’s title very much mirrored the bands growth and artistic direction. Also….when listening to the album you can clearly hear the beginnings of Nevermore’s style as it is moody and dark carried by heavy guitars and Warrel’s psychotic tone of a voice.

On Nevermore’s debut, with lead off track ‘What Tomorrow Knows’ one can draw several comparisons to Sanctuary with its heavy riff driven mid pacing though Nevermore is a different beast and this debut is just that, a debut and they were obviously trying to find their niche. Enlisting soon to be guitar wizard Jeff Loomis and equally insane drummer Van Williams (who only plays on half the debut) brought Nevermore to the next step in what Sanctuary never came to be. Listen to ‘C.B.F.’, ‘Garden of Gray’, ‘Godmoney’ and the thrashier progressive anger filled ‘Sea of Possibilities’ you can hear the skeletons of what came to be near future monster releases "Politics of Ecstasy" and "Dreaming Neon Black".

‘The Sanity Assassin’ or ‘The Hurting Words’ foreshadow the future in songs like "Dreaming Neon"’s title track and ‘Evolution 169’ as it combines Trouble like heavy guitar riffs and somber dark clean guitar parts and melodies. This reissuing and remastering balances out the original mix a bit more allowing a tad fuller drum and crisper symbol sounds and the guitar crunch up front removing the minimal mud from the original release, overall nothing that major to significantly notice a difference if you listen to the original and remaster back to back. Included are 4 promising ruff demo tracks recorded in 1992, the video for ‘What Tomorrow Knows’ and one solid finished tune called ‘The System’s Failing’.

"In Memory" (1996)

 

The original 5 track "In Memory" E.P. held over fans until one of my favorite Nevermore albums "The Politics of Ecstasy" was released. The mini album continued with what the band was developing on their debut while adding more progressive dynamic layers to the arrangements in clean/acoustic guitar passages and sonic quality improved in the production with overall more focused songs.

Lead off track ‘Optimist or Pessimist’ was furious yet dynamic with its inspired guitar leads provided by added second guitarist Pat O’Brian and is very much what "Politics" came to be, an aggressive memorable gem. The ‘In Memory’ track foreshadows a lot of what happened with the poetic “Dreaming Neon Black” opus and overall is where we got an idea of Jeff’s immense potential, as well as now an extremely tight rhythm section provided still by Jim Sheppard on bass and Van on drums. ‘Matricide’ takes a heavier and prog turn in contrast to a less aggressive beginning, an element of their style to become more prominent in future albums and ballad ‘Sorrowed Man’ even showed that in heavy metal being able to write variety within your musical style makes you as an artist all the more talented.

The bonus tracks here are also really cool as they are five demos with a decent mix from "The Politics of Ecstasy" sessions and includes what I consider are three of Nevermore’s strongest tracks to date; ‘The Tiananman’, ‘The Seven Tongues of God’, and ‘This Sacrament’.

"The Politics Of Ecstasy" (1996)

 

"Politics" was my first real introduction to Nevermore as it was the first cd I purchased by the band. At the time, and still, such a breath of punishing yet melodic fresh air during the mid nineties when true Heavy Metal was struggling to survive amongst other rock trends like grunge, rap rock, alternative and "nu metal" that labels were pushing and dominated radio. At the time Iced Earth were also on the same page as far as balancing heaviness with great vocals and melody.

Beginning with the masterfully crafted ‘The Seven Tongues of God’ followed by ‘This Sacrament’ and appropriately titled ‘Next in Line’, at first listen this is what it must feel like being attacked with the force of great white shark. You just don’t see it coming. Still favorites of mine from the Nevermore catalogue. You have the delivery of each track and an outstanding full production, sonically "Politics" kills and reached new standards of musical complexity. The execution of the riffing anchored by a rumbling bass line and human metronome Van on the drums makes in some aspects this every prog thrash fans perfect design. Warrel Dane’s vocals also have come into its own with Nevermore and his somber tone and psychotic delivery is ever so an important piece to each track.

‘Passenger’ at this point while is good slows things down a bit and probably would serve a better purpose somewhere else on the disc. The title track also opens with a slower but yet still crushing pace while mid way through changes direction to something more aggressive. ‘Lost’ bring up the energy level as with one of my favs ‘The Tianaman’ (I just love the breakdown and the leads). Instrumental ‘Precognition’ and ‘42147’ showcases more of the bands progressive tendencies and ‘The Learning’ clocks in at 16 minutes (make sure you let the whole track finish out).

"Politics" is where Nevermore focused their abilities and talents, developed a moldable formula and solidified their style in several ways. This album is so important in that it set the foundation for masterpieces "Dreaming Neon Black", "This Godless Endeavor" and "Dead Heart in a Dead World".

 
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