Album Review: "This Godless Endeavor" ~ Nevermore

Posted by prla1983 on August 23, 2005 • 0 commentsEmail This Post

Nevermore does it (yet) again

NEVERMORE is one of the hottest bands on the metal scene but I can't help this feeling that the sheer heaviness of their sound keeps them from enjoying a more widespread acceptance. The thing with this band is that they seem to have a natural ability to top themselves with every release and that's definitely a trademark of a great band. "This Godless Endeavor" is no exception and from the outset I have little trouble saying that this may just be the finest moment in this band's history.

For the record, what I have in my hands is the limited digipak edition and the packaging is awesome. With this, Hugh Syme is responsible for one of the best artworks in metal history (bold claim, I know, but I stand by it) depicting a bleak present come future, a dystopia of our own society. It perfectly fits the message and the whole idea behind this album and that's why I find it so good.

I'd be surprised if "This Godless Endeavor", NEVERMORE's sixth studio album, disappointed any fans of the band and I'm sure it can reach out to many new ones. Fans of heavy but melodic music will be at home and there's a good amount of shredding going on thanks to guitar demigod Jeff Loomis (who sounds great, thanks to the crystaline production by Andy Sneap) and the new guy on the block, Steve Smyth. Smyth is actually quite a good addition to the band, so far, as it enables some variety in the solos, while still fitting perfectly within the band's blueprint. Jim Sheppard also does a good job but his bass is sometimes a bit lost in the mix.

For me however, as much as I enjoy Loomis and Smyth in this album, it's Van Williams' drums that really stand out and help turn this album into a true masterpiece of metal. Odd time signatures, furious double bass kick attack and a very heavy yet crystal clear sound, make this one of the most enjoyable albums in terms of drum work for me. Finally, vocalist Warell Dane is really at the top of his form, after his decision to come clean and lead a more healthy lifestyle. His vocals are awesome throughout the record and as much as I liked his voice on previous albums, he never sounded better.

The album starts off with "Born", featuring a very Slayer-like fast and furious bass drum attack which comes as a surprise. But if you think the band has gone down the black metal avenue for good, think again. NEVERMORE is melodic as ever and the way this song turns into a beautiful melody at 01:34 is a good example of this (notice how original and fresh the guitar work is in this section). These two moods come and go and it all adds up to a great opener to the album. I was hooked from the start.

"Final Product" comes up next and it doesn't let go. Dane fills this song with anger, hints of sadness and contempt for the demise of the world. Yes, bleak. But this is what "This Godless Endeavor" is all about. "My Acid Words" starts very mellow yet very heavy aswell and launches into the standard NEVERMORE blueprint from previous works, much in the vein of "Dead Heart in a Dead World". "Bittersweet Feast" is perhaps one of the least remarkable songs but still it features an infecting chorus displaying Dane's great vocal attributes and how much of a top notch singer he is these days. Loomis and Smyth also trade licks for yet another guitar solo spot, something which is featured in pretty much every song of this album.

"Sentient 6" is definitely one of the very highlights of "This Godless Endeavor". It starts ominously with a deep piano sound and tells the story of a robot who becomes aware of the human race and jealous of the human condition ("It's unattainable, please teach me how to dream"/"I long to be more than a machine"). Unable to endure such thoughts, this robot seeks revenge and proceeds to wipe the human race out of existence ("I will spread switft justice on their land" and "I am the bringer of the end of time for man"). The real beauty of this song is two fold: the way it evolves and goes from calmness to madness and Loomis' solo depicting the robot's realization. A great piece. "Medicated Nation" gets back on the heavy track and "The Holocaust of Thought" is a nice interlude written by Sheppard which serves as an introduction for what's yet to come.

And what's to come is, if I may say so, even better. "Sell My Heart For Stones" is another highlight, kind of a quiet song with a slow but heavy chorus and Dane delivering the goods again. He can be really persuasive and it shows here. "The Psalm of Lydia" has the best intro on the whole album, one of those guitar riffs that strike as instant classics and turns into a badass solo by Loomis. In terms of guitar work this may well be the best song on the entire album. "A Future Uncertain" starts acoustic but soon launches into yet another very good heavy song.

Which gets us to the title track, the last song on the album. This sees, perhaps surprisingly, the band taking a more progressive direction with a less conventional song which goes through different stages and moods. This is where all the virtues (for lack of defects) of the previous songs find a rendez-vous. Lyrically this is also the strongest song on the album. Suffice to say that this song encapsulates everything which makes this band so great. Brilliant.

In the end, "This Godless Endeavor" is hands down one of the best (if not *the* best) metal album out this year. It's unusual to listen to such a strong album from start to finish but NEVERMORE pulls it off with apparent ease. Usually when a record is surrounded by a lot of hype, the sensible thing to do is to grow suspicious of it. In this case, my advice is to believe the hype and buy this record immediately. I can't recommend it enough.

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