The Angry Scotsman
5 years in the making.
So when I heard about the news, via my brother, I was ecstatic. We both were, since their last album "This Godless Endeavor" was a near flawless masterpiece, and one of the biggest albums in my life.
I was a bit disappointed when I first heard this album, and gave it some time off to separate it from their last. I did get a bit more enjoyment from it over time, but still it left me feeling little. It sounded right, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I found out why. This is honestly the best way to describe the album, (courtesy of Jeff Loomis):
"Obviously, this is a different NEVERMORE album, from our point of view. The music is a little less complex, the songs are more structured, the choruses come in quicker. I mean, it's a more straight-forward album than we've ever done."
And that producer Peter Wichers was very involved with the songwriting, prodding Loomis to "cut the fat" and make the songs "more catchier and hookier" opposed to his usual 7-8 minute songs. I didn't know who Peter Wichers was, so I looked him up to find out he was from Soilwork. Suddenly, it all made sense... (can you guess I'm not really a fan?)
On the first listen it struck me how toned down the prog was. The progressive and complex song structures that I loved so much about "This Godless Endeavor" were largely gone. There was also less use of acoustic guitar and generally less melodic writing. This is a stripped down, straight forward Nevermore album.
So, where does that leave us? This is a decent album. It has a Nevermore feel, some awesome riffing, but is just driving down a straight road. Nothing is weak, but nothing really stands out. The musicianship is awesome, as always, and Dane's vocals come out even more. This was also a conscious effort, with Loomis stating the albums less complex sound was to leave Dane with more space for his vocals. While produced by Wichers, the album was mixed and mastered by long time associate Andy Sneap, thus it has that classic Nevermore sound. Airtight, crisp, heavy. Perfect really, for their style of music. As usual you can hear every note with clarity.
Again, a decent album that should please Nevermore fans enough, and be a good album for most metalheads to rock out with (which is good since this album may be gaining the band much more exposure). Only track that does stand out is the finale, which deserves a place in the thrash metal hall of fame. One intense song that has a good flow and is damn catchy.
Good, not great, album with awesome musicianship restrained by unspectacular and uninspired song structures. While not bad, and still enjoyable to Nevermore fans, some may be pretty let down. I always give kudos to a band for mixing things up, especially at risk of "going mainstream" but I do hope in the future they stick with Sneap and what they are best at.
Two and a Half Stars