by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Nevermore - This Godless Endeavor
(Century Media)

Hot on the heels of the re-sculpting of Enemies Of Reality, Nevermore unleash a brand new record. Let's start with the sound - there's nothing to discuss, fortunately and unfortunately, fortunately because the oddity of the initial mix of Enemies is not present, unfortunately, because it sounds all too perfect, fine, more than fine, but without any personality - this is just the flawless modern heavy metal production found on countless records, as if evidenced by Van's bass drum sound, or lack thereof. Moving onto the music, and Nevermore have found a new level of maturity, if that is even possible. There's a cohesion here, a rounding of the sharp prog edges into a massive and moving, mostly mid-paced and low-end-of-fast thrash. I suppose one production point helps in this regard, and that's the heaving, huge Machine Head-like guitar sound. Warrel has retained his geometric, ear-cocked melodies, but he's a little back in the mix, and somewhat restrained, or refined, or lower of register or something. The briefly ballad-like material is dovetailed seamlessly, and it is superlative - Nevermore has always written dark, funereal songs in this format, but passages here are novel, and more often than not, strapped to heavy metal rockets (I feel an Opeth-like acoustic album coming on). The complicated prog does indeed intensify near the end of the record for The Psalm Of Lydia and most pertinently, the title track, a relentless heart attack of an epic, that, like so many examples before in the Nevermore catalogue, shows oldsters like Priest and Maiden how the hungry do it.
Rating 9

Candlemass - Candlemass
(Nuclear Blast)

One thing I hope this exquisite doom comeback doesn't do, is cast aspersions on the non-Messiah albums, 'cos those were a blast - maybe even better than "the classics." Still, it's much preferred that the mad monk is ringing those tubular bells of his again, because, even though it is Leif Edling who is far and away chief writer in this band, it is that wishing well of a voice that makes one cast eyes down in mournful metal reverence. One provides, well, almost all of it, and then the other trods centre stage and... bellows, taking all of a certain species of the credit. It is of no mind, the two are synergy personified, creating the greatest comeback of the dozen that have come in this century. Candlemass is large enough to be a self-titled. The band's past weaknesses (mainly simplicity and repetition), are played for iconoclastic strengths. Assassins Of The Light is the perfect example of this - slow, mesmerific, it is an irresistibly hooky doom anthem that tempts you with a little, and then a little bit more. Stingy has become skillfully measured. Opener Black Dwarf rocks like a chugging train, Edling coming up with a lyric that is both apocalyptic and comical... brilliant. Born In A Tank may be even more twistedly fantastic... one can't suppress a laugh at this poor bugger. On and on, what you get is a band so purely and trudgingly doom, capturing your attention by recording their cloaked work songs brightly, playing them cleanly and tightly, hitting us with a serious groove just when it's starting to get too slow (see 'Spellbinder'). One for the eons, this is a goddamn triumph, mainly because Candlemass have written a gorgeous yet efficient and unshowy new album that somehow raises an authoritative backhand to their dark grey works of old.
Rating 10

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