Nevermore (1994) Review:

Wish I was there.

The band members really went for the whole costume thing.
The band members really went for the whole costume thing.

Nevermore is the debut album from American metal band Nevermore. While their peerless style had not quite developed, this acts as a very strong debut with one or two classic tracks and a raw energy that was not quite matched in future releases.

It’s always odd listening to a band’s debut album for the first time after having heard the rest of their material beforehand but I always enjoy it – hearing where a band has come from can make their debut record stand out that little bit more. But enough of how I came to listen to the album and when: is it good?

Yes.

Nevermore sounds like a mixture between Sanctuary and later Nevermore albums, but with more aggression and raw energy that really comes across very well. The writing of the record is not as complicated as the best of Nevermore and the musicality and lyrics never feel quite as accomplished but it makes a change from the rest of the band’s discography and I for one enjoyed the more simplistic nature of the album.

Nevermore however is not simple, just simpler than the band’s future releases. Songs like “The Sanity Assassin” sound like they could have been pulled from any album while “C.B.F” and “What Tomorrow Knows” sound a tad simpler. Despite this, Jeff Loomis and Jim Sheppard (on guitar and bass respectively) give fantastic performances, with many a great riff, rip-roaring guitar solo and chuggier, heavier sections; “Garden of Gray” for example has the best bass work within the record and evidence of guitar solos can be found in the opening seconds and more of “Sea of Possibilities”.

The opening track – “What Tomorrow Knows” – is the best on the record and it sums up my feelings on the album sufficiently: aggressive and raw. However, the rest of the tracks don’t quite live up to “What Tomorrow Knows”, with “Timothy Leary” and “The Hurting Words” feeling like Dane was trying to say too much about certain issues. There are no bad songs on the album, just two that are not quite as good as the rest.

Throughout the record we are given tantalising glimpses into the future of Nevermore (ideas that become fully developed in their follow-up Politics of Ecstasy. It’s a fun album with one advantage over every other record released by the band – Warrel’s vocals.

Never since have Dane’s vocals sounded so powerful and energetic (a benefit of youth). I can’t stress enough that this sounds like a debut record – it’s not quite the Nevermore we know and love – but I love it for that. “C.B.F” and “What Tomorrow Knows” are two of the best tracks the band has ever produced, and this is not coming from someone who heard this album before the rest of their work and that for me is enough to recommend the album to any fan of metal.

Summary:

Nevermore is more primal, raw and aggressive than the Nevermore you know, it’s not their best, indeed, it may be their worst; but that may just be because of how stellar their discography is. Containing two truly classic tracks and the best of Warrel Dane’s voice, Nevermore should not be written off as “just their first album”, it is more than that, an album that almost never was and to me an important part of the metal world and history.

Nevermore’s first is slightly unlike the rest of their discography but still worth many, many listens.

84/100

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