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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Nevermore

This Godless Endeavour

Review by Mike Korn

The American heavy metal scene is healthier than ever, with bands such as Mastodon, Shadows Fall and High On Fire each making a mark in their own unique style. Nevermore is often lumped in with these younger bands, but the truth is, their roots are very deep in the scene, going all the way back to the late 80's with the band Sanctuary. They have really persevered through some difficult times for "real" metal, weathering the onslaughts of the grunge and nu-metal fads. In fact, this dogged tenacity has laid a lot of the groundwork for metal's current resurgence.

I didn't think the band would ever top their classic "Dead Heart In a Dead World". Their last album "Enemies of Reality" certainly didn't do it and wound up being a kind of debacle for Nevermore. With "This Godless Endeavour" , they are back on the winning track and have matched if not surpassed "Dead Heart". This is an amazing sounding record full of brutal heaviness, haunting melody and the unique sound that has always typified Nevermore in full flight.

What makes this record so striking is how heavy and thrashy it is and yet there's a prevailing sadness that colors the whole effort. The superb lyrics are deeply pessimistic and well delivered by Warrel Dane's unmistakeable voice. Somehow the music, no matter how frantic, echoes the gloominess of the words. The record is a seamless combination of speed metal precision, crushing groove, progressive melody and guitar heroics that is hard to find fault with. This should be the break-out album for Nevermore that makes them the modern equivalent of a Megadeth, a Testament or a Metallica.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Born
This barrels out of the gate with a thunderous impact. It has some of the most brutal riffing ever from Nevermore, with uncharacteristically harsh vocals from Dane. The track soon settles down into a still aggressive but more tempered number with a wonderfully sorrowful and catchy chorus from Dane, who switches over to his more familiar melancholy warble. This is one of the most powerful opening cuts ever from Nevermore.
Final Product
Keeping the pace fast, this is a more intricate tune showing the band's tightness to good advantage. Dane's voice is heartbreakingly sincere as he intones bleak lyrics like "The media loves the latest tragic suicide/ They exploit it, then package it and profit from the people who die". No band has more conviction in its pessimism than Nevermore and this is a shining example of that.
My Acid Words
This is one of the heaviest and most outstanding tracks on the disc, exhibiting a tremendous mix of crushing doomy chords, speed metal riffing and catchy groove. The chorus is sheer brilliance! - and so is the guitar soloing of Jeff Loomis
Bittersweet Feast
Beginning with a slow, mysterious build, the powerful tribal drumming of Van Williams makes its mark here. This is another song engulfed by an inexpressible sadness. It would be impossible to come up with a guitar sound any heavier than what you hear on the chorus of this crusher. "The sheep march to the fire and wait to host the flies/Their greedy little maggots clean the wounds with pride/This is your final warning, a war on free will is coming"
Sentient 6
A very ominous and icy piano introduces this moody semi-ballad, which seems to be the first person narrative of a supercomputer preparing to wipe the human infestation off the Earth. Yes, another "feel-good" pop song. Actually, the tune is a brilliant and interesting change of pace, featuring what has to be the weirdest twin guitar solo I have ever heard. 
Medicated Nation
There's a lot of truth in the words of this diatribe condemning America's pill-popping fixation. In contrast with "Sentient 6", this is a very straightforward and crunchy metal tune with a harsh feel to it. There's a killer burst of speed and a great solo about halfway through.
The Holocaust of Thoughts
A brief instrumental, this features the distinctive lead guitar sound of the legendary James Murphy (Death/Obituary/Testament,etc). 
Sell My Heart for Stones
The word "haunting" is often over-used in describing Nevermore but I can't think of a better word to put this song into perspective. There's a vaguely Spanish feel to the mellower, more introspective moments and Dane's vocals are very delicate during these more low-key portions of the song. The heaviness comes in during the chorus but it doesn't overwhelm the melody of the track at all. "Gothic" is a good word for the feeling here.
The Psalm of Lydia
This is the most straightforward metal track on the album, and kind of refreshing because of that. Boy, the Loomis guitar solo that introduces this is just exquisite...this guy can really play! New guy Steve Smyth also shows his chops here and more than justifies his addition.
A Future Uncertain
Here's another song that begins gently and almost hopefully before bitter lyrics like "I hate that you judge me/I hate that you're above me" enter and usher in some speed metal riffing. I found this track decent enough but I'd probably say it's the least impressive on show here. Which means it would be the highlight of many another band's album.
This Godless Endeavour
This may be the definitive Nevermore track that sums up everything that makes this band so special. It's a real epic that shows all phases of the band clicking. A very pretty acoustic introduction gives way to some of the hugest, most majestic power chords penned by any metal band. I'm in awe of the power of these riffs, which just scream class at the top of their lungs. The track builds from there into a full-bore thrasher with classic Nevermore groove. This is really progressive metal, but because of its innate heaviness, few prog-heads will give it its due. Not me - it's a monster song that is a fitting closer to another great album from Nevermore. 
 
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