Nevermore - Dreaming Neon Black

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 7891-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 65:59:00

Imagine if James Hetfield and Geoff Tate collaborated together on a project, with members of their respective bands and members of Dream Theater providing the backing, and you'd get Nevermore - at least on this release, their latest, Dreaming Neon Black. Metalliryche? Queensaica? Add a bit of a darker element to the music, too. Now, that's the easy part, because this is album deeper than one might think. No, let me rephrase that - one who is just venturing into this kind of music might not expect. But, perhaps that isn't even true ? because something of substance certainly would have led him or her this way. And at the risk of getting heckled for saying so [Hi Nathan], I would venture to say fans of Brittany Spears or whoever is the hot child singer of the moment, wouldn't even get close enough to even expect anything. So, let's just say that, as you might expect, this is more than just a clone band. I'm just coming to them with this album, but my reviews over the past few months will show how I got here.

As an aside, my sister was around as I was listening to this, and she had the following comment: "Do you like this? This is okay ("Dreaming Neon Black"), but the other one ("I Am The Dog") sounded like a garage band. Like Soundgarden." Profound, no. But yet, a teensy little bit true in spots.

Anyway, the disc itself is a concept album that can be (not so easily) summed up thusly: man gets very depressed and cynical after the love of his life has died - indications suggest by her own hand. Shades of Hamlet perhaps, and fair Ophelia? The cover imagery and imagery in the lyrics would suggest at least a passing reference - Ophelia drowned. The album opens with "Ophidian," a title that echoes "Ophelia," and suggests "of or relating to..." (though I didn't find such a word in the dictionary). The album actually begins not unlike Arena's 1998 release The Visitor - down to the EKG machine. We are flitting back through time to find what led to this moment. There are some additional parallels to Arena's album, where even parts of "Dreaming..." echo "The Hanging Tree."

Vocalist Warrel Dane not only sounds like a Hetfield/Tate hybrid for the most part, but he has a way of conveying the dark mood of the protagonist. The chorus of "The Death Of Passion" with its repeated refrain of "I feel so hollow" only serves to reinforce the feeling of depression, of deflating, as the vocal scale descends down the lyric - like a big neon black arrow pointing down. I like his voice - it's earthy, full of feeling and expression, growly at times (Hetfield), soaring at others (Tate).

The album gains strength as it progresses, "I Am The Dog" being the track I liked least. It is not, as the subject matter would suggest, a happy album. Really we are following one man's decent into madness - on one level at least. Yes, I would have to say that the lost love is the catalyst for an examination of all the wrongs (or perceived) wrongs in the world.

The are some terrific moments on this disk, the acoustic guitar intro to "Dreaming Neon Black" is one for me, because it contrasts nicely with the heavy guitars of the chorus. This track is also very heavy on the Operation: Mindcrime / Empire period of Queensryche, if Queensryche were just a bit darker thematically. And structurally, there are similarities, too - the contrasting female vocals (here courtesy of Christine Rhoades). And maybe it's a particular word in the lyric, but we can certainly compare elements of this track (and album) to Marillion's Script - Warrel Dane has a lyrical way of writing, not quite as obscure as Fish. But, I truly was thinking more thematically - both are brooding over a lost love, Fish to another man, Dane to death (or Dane is really brooding over this, and she's just taken up with someone else).

Another moment for me, and maybe it's because I've always been attracted by guitar leads (recall - or know - that Steve Rothery is my six-stringed hero), is Jeff Loomis's acoustic solo during the vitriolic "Deconstruction" - it's like a little patch of sunlight in an otherwise dark and stormy sky.

Now, I must be extremely pessimistic, because I agree with a great deal of Dane's sentiments. "The Fault Of Flesh" for example, and the lyric "Man is the parasite, man is the cause/We are destroyers and creators, our precious flaw." A dizzying refrain, like a carnival's Ferris wheel spinning askew, glides underneath - cool effect, as it gives you the sense of the world spinning askew (chaos). At first I thought they were keys, but as none are credited, my next guess is guitar.

Okay, bottom line? I think it is a great album - I'm really enjoying listening to it - it hits all the right buttons for me - great music, emotive playing on the part of all concerned, content to chew on? absolutely great stuff!

Ophidian (0:46) / Beyond Within (5:11) / The Death of Passion (4:10) / I Am The Dog (4:13) / Dreaming Neon Black (6:26) / Deconstruction (6:39) / The Fault Of The Flesh (4:54) / The Lotus Eaters (4:25) / Poison Godmachine (4:33) / All Play Dead (4:58) / Cenotaph (4:39) / No More Will (5:45) / Forever (9:20)

Warrel Dane - vocals
Jim Sheppard - bass
Jeff Loomis - lead and rhythm guitars
Tim Calvert - lead and rhythm guitars
Van Williams - drums

Nevermore (1995)
In Memory (ep) (1996)
The Politics Of Ecstasy (1996)
Dreaming Neon Black (1999)
Dead Heart In A Dead World (2000)
Enemies Of Reality (2003)
Enemies Of Reality (remixed/remastered) (2004)
This Godless Endeavor (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: February 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1091
Language: english


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