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Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor
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Joined: 04 Oct 2000
Posts: 3985
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 2:21 am    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

There's good news and bad news about this disc; and I've never had to associate bad news with a new Nevermore disc before. The downside is that this is the least of Nevermore's albums since the self-titled, and it is the first album of theirs I've had the pleasure of anticipating that didn't have an iron-clad lock on my favorite album of that year from day one. The upside is that for now, it's in the lead. Nevermore still sneers down at us puny mortals from great heights. But they've got some sort of ballad monkey on their backs.

Which doesn't mean I don't like Nevermore ballads, I do, but while I've praised _Dead Heart In A Dead World_ to anyone who's listened for almost three years now, I was pleased to hear the rumor that _Enemies Of Reality_ would only have one ballad - one or two ballads could've gone on DHIADW and we'd still have one or two (certainly "The Heart Collector") left over. But here there are two ballads (albeit one with thrash bookends) and a trippy/dreamy song, making for a scant six songs of spine-liquefying Nevermore, two of which are good but don't seem up to the Nevermore gold standard.

"Enemies Of Reality"
I was very slightly disappointed with this song at first, but I mostly attribute that to the first real riff we hear, which is pretty good but doesn't measure up to the last few album-opening riffs, until Jeff freaks out with all these more or less random notes. He's good at that. After an eerie, droning fade-in intro, we get that riff, and then...pure Nevermore genius, one skull-crushing riff, one hair-raising melody after another. Nevermore often repeats a riff but gives it a different tone by playing all palm-muted, and that's the first thing they do after that first riff, with a wicked new one that works great both ways. Great verse from Warrel, cool Marty Friedman-ish harmony guitar, simple but totally hair-raising pre-chorus, great chorus (if a pretty rock-n-rolly one). Back to the first riff, then a verse again - then immediately into an awesome solo (though, again, pretty rock n' roll, especially the swingy riff under there). Post-solo...not so crazy about this part...holy shit another solo, kinda formula though...whup, harmony comes in and gives it a totally different tone (it's like the palm-muting thing, but for solos). The playing isn't as clean as if, say, Malmsteen had done it, but Malmsteen only once demonstrated the patience to play something this orderly, on his Concerto album...and then he went back to Boals-sung crapola. Chorus, first riff, solo as outro. I am pleased. Even that first riff isn't so bad (I like the drone over it). Major lyrical theme: eating of carrion!

Boi-oi-oi-oing...probably the best song on the disc, though "I, Voyager" has as fair a claim on that. First riff is great up until those last four notes...riffsmiths often want to end riffs on those four notes, but it is a cliché to be avoided. It's not glaring or anything here, as the rest of the riff is strong enough to easily make up for it, but I would've stayed away from those four notes. Verse seems cheesy for about three seconds and then totally rocks - singing, riffs, drumming, everything. Especially the more melodic repeated second part of it. Two seconds of staccato stuff, then a two-part chorus - first a riff that sounds like Queen covering "War Pigs", with an appropriately Ozzy-reminiscent vocal, and then no vocals, but holy crap this riff rules. It's like laid-back Morbid Angel put through a bit of a stonerish filter...it's awesome, I love this riff. Verse again, from the start. Chorus again, then a half-verse with a different, swingy riff with a great groove. Then an excellent but kinda Michael Shenker-ish solo. First part of chorus, staccato freakout again, second part of chorus, verse, first riff again. I suppose this is the down-and-dirty angry-stoner song.

"Never Purify"
This would be the most Meshuggah-y song. I don't really like Meshuggah as a band unto itself, but I think they've been a cool influence on other bands - Nevermore in particular. But you wouldn't know it at first 'cuz it starts with the chorus, which sounds like 90's Queensryche. Good chuggy Meshuggah riff and vocal, then this...what kind of alien lifeform do you have to channel to write riffs like this? Back into that Meshuggah riff which somehow seems a lot more musical now, then this awesome, dark, heavy pre-chorus, this is one of the best riffs on the disc...then the chorus again. Then two long buildup riffs, and then good variants of them (and the awesome dark pre-chorus riff) under a slightly "Eastern"-sounding solo. Pre-chorus, verse (I guess that would've been a pre-verse this time then), buildup again, Meshuggah verse, chorus, dark riff (awesome!). The first two songs were total rock-n-roll in structure, but not this one, which is dark, weird, and brilliant. This and "Create The Infinite" are arguably the most "progressive" songs. Lyrics make me think of Bud Dwyer.

"Tomorrow Turned Into Yesterday"
I didn't like this song at all at first, as clear and obvious a stumble as Nevermore has ever made, a full-on hit-single-wannabe ballad straight out of 1990. But parts of it have grown on me...parts. Nice but a little cheesy clean-guitar intro, then a very brief, very simple solo that has a great reverse-bend fadeout ending but otherwise could've come from Bryan Adams. A verse, pretty good for all its shameless balladeering (though with a dash of Fates Warning...circa 1990), then a good but total cheese big-hair ballad pre-chorus, then crap on a cracker I hate that chorus. Capped off by the Bryan Adams solo, again. Verse again (great delivery by Warrell), chorus again, some sort of "super-chorus" which is even worse than that chorus, but then a neat, darker (though brief) segue into a the solo - it doesn't get more big-hair power ballad than this solo. The first part (which is good) is over a darker riff than the second part, which is total big-hair melodrama that would do C.C. DeVille proud, over the Bon Jovi chorus riff no less. Then that horrible chorus again. I can't imagine this chorus ever growing on me, and how often can I say that about Nevermore? Even their crap is gold. Crappy crap, that super-chorus...then the freakout ending, Warrell spiralling off into the abyss over that dark riff. The lyrics are appropriately sorrowful for the subject it hangs upon, but, like the instrumental portion of this song, well below what I expect from Nevermore. Aside from the ending, this song could've come from Sentenced or Lacuna Coil, and I'd probably like it better if it was. I wouldn't think for a second that it sounded like Nevermore.

"I, Voyager"
Holy crap, that riff...that'll make yer hair grow. This would be the Apology Song - the super-heavy, aggressive song that follows the obvious commercial ballad, as if in apology. Awesome riff one, awesome fast Meshuggah riff two, palm-mute repeat of Meshuggah riff for verse...the head bangs, the apology is accepted. Very simple pre-chorus, which is cool for a few seconds and the vocal comes in and saves it just as it's getting old. Then there's this awesome chorus, one of their best ever. Meshuggah riff again and verse. Pre-chorus gets right to the vocals this time, chorus, then a slow, simple bridge leading into the solo, a very "structured" one - which, again, throws in a twist just as it starts to get old. Extended verse with more Meshuggah riffs, pre-chorus again, slightly extended chorus, then that great intro riff (that doesn't work quite as well as an outro), new riff, end. They should've released this in advance instead of the title track.

"Create The Infinite"
Starts with a completely robotic, melodic-in-an-unmelodic way intro riff, which I suspect a lot of people might hate, but I like it. A whole song of it might drive me crazy, though. For sure, if you want to use metal to torture some somebody, you'd probably get your best results with riffs like this. Then a fairly simple but effective heavy verse, that ends with another brief, robot melody. Somebody counts to seven over a great fast-ish riff over a slow beat, then weird chorus over that insane intro riff. Two seconds of trad metal ends the chorus, verse again. Chorus again, then straight into a sort of hippie-trance thing with Jeff soloing way in the background. Countdown again (actually it's a count-up) to verse, to chorus, then fast-ish riff as outro. The whole song is good, but it's also all not quite there, or at least I'm not. I think it's the vocals, which are pretty tuneless, fitting the music fine I guess, but not really what I like to hear from Warrell. I can see this growing on me, but it'll probably always be a weird, stiff left turn in Nevermore's catalogue. Sample lyric: "And the gulls sailed like recycled fragile entities". See what I mean?

"Who Decides"
Fades in similarly to the title track (though more dreamy, less screamy), then a fast thrashy buildup to...I dunno, a 1982 pop rock hit about how you miss going to the beach or something, that's what this guitar melody makes me think of, and that's not good. Man, I don't like this part at all. Then a very ballady verse with that multiple-acoustic-arpeggios thing Jeff did on a couple ballads last time. Then a wonderful chorus like old, sad Alice Cooper, prim and proper with its passion, but kinda winking at you, hoping you don't take the melodrama that seriously. Ballad verse again...come to think of it, the verse also sounds like Alice Cooper, though with a way more skilled band. Chorus again, then back to the beach, then the thrashy buildup which at first doesn't work very well as an outro but it suddenly gets twice as cool when played over a slow beat. Fast again - it works this time - and out. This might've been comparable to the better songs on here if not for that beach part - balladic, but not in the way previous Nevermore ballads have been. I liked the thrashy stuff as the intro and the outro, it's...well, it's funny. The lyrics are much better than the other ballad (two astronaut references!).

Muttering fadein over a sitar, then a power chord, then a simple two-note melody. Clean guitar twangs a "spooky" riff (I can imagine one day growing to like this enough that I take the "" away, but I'm not there yet) over an extremely slow beat for a "There is no stronger drug than reality" trippy intro, then a somber verse with a good neoclassical guitar harmony leading up to a second verse, while Warrell mutters some through some effect. This verse has a kicker though - it's bookended by Queen. All guitars, all graceful, regal melody and harmony, before and after the verse. That'd be a cool touch just about anywhere but it does a lot to help this song. Then that line from the intro repeated like a chant over twangy guitar, power chord, and Jeff soloing off into outer space. Once that chant starts, the song just kinda floats, not really going anywhere, but everything seems to finish up at the same time, leaving just a sitar twiddling off into...probably wherever Jeff's solo went. A lot of people are going to write off this song nothing more than an intro because there's no chorus, which I can only suppose was to facilitate the trippy vibe.

"Seed Awakening"
Awesome, awesome intro riff. Awesome second riff, reminds me a bit of "Blackened" and "E.vil N.ever D.ies". More melodic, brief buildup to the verse, which is over that second riff and the first line is, again, "There is no stronger drug than reality". The very beginning is the only place in this song where it could've worked, but there it is, and it works. After hearing it blissfully chanted ten times in the last song, it's disconcerting to suddenly hear it repeated in such a terror-filled verse. Chaotic, Meshuggah section with a that buildup to the verse used to cap it off, then the verse again. Then there's the chorus, which comes in two parts - with and without vocals (here, two pairs of the two parts). The part with, is another one of those things where I suspect it might grow on me with more listens, but I can't say I'm too crazy about it now - it's too exultant to fit well in an otherwise despairing, frightened song. The part without vocals, I doubt I'll ever like, I hate to say it but there's about ten seconds worth of something that sounds kinda like Korn on this album. Cool ending to it though, then a Malmsteen-y solo over the verse riff, though at varying tempos for the drums. Verse, buildup, chorus, then an outro with vocals over that first riff, only it's played in a more rock style, finished up with the Meshuggah part again and then...another sitar outro. Man, that's at least one too many sitar outros on this Nevermore album.

Except for the left-field probably-always-going-to-skip-it track four, the first half of this disc smokes the second half, and in that way, I guess it really is most like _Politics Of Ecstasy_. Nevermore's sound has long been one that works the tuneful and the tuneless together into a synthesis, but they have segregated those two aspects of their sound more than before. Which means that their grasps at commercial accessibility are their most brazen ever, as "Tomorrow Turned Into Yesterday" demonstrates - but also that their weird freakouts are their most opaque and difficult ("Create The Infinite", to a lesser degree, "Never Purify").

So I guess I haven't heard Nevermore this schizophrenic before, but that's not a bad thing. Frankly, without "Tomorrow Turned Into Yesterday", this album's an even split between genius and near-genius and while that does tip the balance a little closer to mediocrity than before (mediocrity still being way beyond the horizon for this band), it would also in most years be enough to conquer that whole year. But, there is that song, and that brings it down a notch, one of two glaring flaws on what is otherwise a thing of beauty.

Van sounds like he's playing great, not like you can much tell from the muffled mix for the drums (the only problem I have with the production, and the other glaring flaw), and Jim can actually be heard for once, predictably keeping his lines simpler than Jeff's. Jeff himself is still the riffmaster general, though his soloing style is much more varied than before, borrowing from many axe heroes of yesteryear (I was pleased to hear Brian May among them), and more overtly melodic than his past playing. Warrel's singing exchews the high-pitched Sanctuary yowls heard occasionally on DHIADW in favor of a more baritone thunder, fierce, ruthless, and unstoppable. His lyrics are trippy, angry and terrified as usual; somebody called them "Kill your TV before your TV kills you" lyrics, and that does nicely capture the absurd yet frightful world Nevermore often tries to invoke.

Good artwork throughout from Travis Smith; too "typical" of him to stand out much though. And it's dedicated to Chuck! I do seem to remember a few anecdotes of Warrell having known Chuck pretty well.

A worthy album. For Nevermore, barely...but worthy.
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General Zod

Joined: 24 Jan 2001
Posts: 2519
Location: Krypton

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 12:34 pm    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

I have held off on listening to the MP3s I have, because they are of the first mastering, which is just horrid. However, most of your review seems dead on.

It interests me that Jeff has said that they've already begun writing material for their next CD. I'll bet dollars to donuts Sneap or Kernon will produce the next CD. And call it a hunch, but I have this strange feeling that the next Nevermore disc, which we'll hopefull get roughly a year from now, just may be the disc of the century.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 1:20 pm    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

Tyranno, great thoughts, took longer to read your review than to listen to the album. Love the passion that you possess, keep it up!

GZ-already onto the next Nevermore disc, we do think alike...

Still awaiting to hear anybit, been holding off for some free time to give it some listens (and await getting the box-version)
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 7:03 pm    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

I heard the title track on a sampler. It was good,but the producer sounds as if he tried to bury it. I have it on order. Based on what I've read about it,it's not as good as DHIADW but is still worth owning.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 9:02 pm    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

I really wanted to keep the door open, but I've pretty much decided after several more listens that DHIADW is quite a bit better than the new disc. I really DO like it a lot though, but after re-visiting DHIADW I realized what a masterpiece it really is. Hard for any band to follow an effort like that, but I do think Nevermore did well here.

T-Rabbit...just an observation...although I get what you're saying, I personally think that if a band was influenced by '80s style metal ballads, then I would only expect that these would show strongly in their writing. Metal ballads seem to me to be a real strength for Nevermore....IMO the Heart Collector is possibly the best song I've heard in the last several years ballad or otherwise. I thought Believe in Nothing was excellent too, and maybe Tomorrow Turned into Yesterday isn't in the same category, but I still respect a band that's willing to put it out there because they feel it's a good piece. I don't think it is nescessarily a stumble, and I don't know that this means anything other than Nevermore using as much of their influences as widely as possible in their writing. I respect that.

Anyway, that was just a note upon your note. [img]images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] As usual, great review. I agreed with you on most other points.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 5:01 am    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

Cool review, I realized my hair turned grey by the time I finished reading it. LOL
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Midnight Sun

Joined: 02 Aug 1999
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 2:22 am    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

Like Iced Earth, Nevermore only shine when they perform ballads.
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General Zod

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 10:48 am    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

Originally posted by Midnight Sun:
Like Iced Earth, Nevermore only shine when they perform ballads.

What, what, what?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 1:08 pm    Post subject: Tyranno overtypes outrageously listening to the new Nevermor Reply with quote

Zod - it doesn't surprise me too much that they're already writing for their next album. That's pretty much what happened the last time it took them three years to come out with an album! I wouldn't get my hopes up too high for the real mastering - it's better, but most people don't seem to like it overall and I don't blame them. Personally, the drums are the only real problem I have.

FALCON - thanks man!

iwarrior - did you order the version with the DVD? I was considering ordering it from The End anyway, but I blinked and it sold out.

Mijarra - I agree that this is a part of their sound, but I just don't think that TTIY is the song to represent that part. When I think of the 80's power ballads that influenced Nevermore's, I think of stuff like "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", but this is closer to, say, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn".

Ug - don't say I didn't warn you.

Midnight Sun/10th - you have SARS.
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