Sound — 8
Seeing that Warrel Dane's debut solo album is produced by former Soilwork guitarist-gone-producer Peter Wichers, it comes to no surprise that the production issomewhat Soilwork-ish. However, Warrel Dane has his own unique vocal and lyrical style, so that is more or less where the comparison ends. The album of course isn't a melodic death metal album, or whatever genre Soilwork belongs to at the moment. It's more of a metal/hardrock crossover album, as the genres listed above would suggest. Thus, the sonical comparison between this and Soilwork is purely on how the instruments sound, not how they are played. Not a whole lot can, or needs to be said regarding the production - it's slick, well balanced and very unsurprising. Fans hoping for Warrel's solo project to be reminiscent of any random band, say, Darkthrone, stop reading here. Fans hoping for more song-oriented and easily digested material with huge choruses - do keep reading. Instrumentwise, it's very standard. Guitars, bass, drums, vocals and then some samples here and there. Hardly anything unique, but also nothing to complain about.
Lyrics — 8
One of Warrel Dane's strengths in Nevermore is definitely his ability to pen through-provoking and meaningful lyrics. On Praises to the War Machine I'll stick out my head and say that he has written some of his finest lyrics. The lyrical subjects are not really revolutionary - some personal issues, some thoughts on religion and faith and some touching on politics. But it is not the topics that matter, so much as what is actually being said, and how. Opener When We Pray deals with no matter how much we pray, nothing seems to happen. Like nigh all other tracks, it has a big chorus where Warrel doesn't hold back on his beliefs: The world is ruled by fools and thieves, their flare for power and taste for greed. Also featured on the album are two covers - Lucretia My Reflection, originally by The Sisters of Mercyand Patterns, originally by Paul Simon. Lyrically, you could almost believe that Warrel had written them, especially Patterns. Warrel would probably be the first to admit that he takes a lot of inspiration from Paul Simon and his work. The vocals and lyrics are the focal point of this album, as opposed to a more standard metal album where you could expect the instrumental sections to balance the vocals, and luckily for us, the listeners, the lyrics and vocals are damn good.
Overall Impression — 9
One of the many qualities of this album is that it plays to it's strengths, those being Warrel Dane and the ability of Wichers & Wicklund to pen songs tailored to his voice. As I listen to the album, a decent comparison would be what Roy Z did to Bruce Dickinson in the late 90s: write songs in which the vocalist can fully express himself. Instrumentally, there's not much to get excited about, except for the guestsoloing by renowned guitarists Jeff Loomis (Nevermore) and James Murphy (ex-Death, ex-Testament). Sadly, those are only instrumental adventures we're treated to, which is a shame. Perhaps somewhat of a paradox, but the greatest strength of the album is also it's greatest (and only) weakness. The album is so focused on the song and the chorus, that the riff and the solo is somewhat forgotten. There are no great riffs that'll have you walk around humming them for weeks, but there're so many great vocal melodies present, that the absence of good riffs is almost unimportant. As for the songs themselves - make your pick. Messenger with it's almost weak and frail sounding verses, the killer cover of Patterns with the soaring pre-chorus or the haunting chorus of August, they're all great songs. A rare feat in today's music business, but this album does not have any bad, or subpar, or filler, or turdy songs you want to skip. It's just a solid, rocking album-oriented release filled with killer 3-5 minute tunes whose choruses will stick on you faster than chlamydia. Let's hope this album works as a primer for Warrel, so he's as focused on the upcoming Nevermore as he was on this.