Album of the Week 07-2014: Nevermore – Dead Heart In A Dead World

Ever since I’ve discovered Nevermore, I’ve encountered quite some hatred against the band that I never really understood. It probably has to do with the fact that music this heavy with guitars this low is generally associated with grunts. However, Warrel Dane’s spirited clean vocal delivery is part of the reason why ‘Dead Heart In A Dead World’ is one of my all time favorite albums and why Nevermore is among my all time favorite bands. And nowhere more on this release – though ‘This Godless Endeavor’ comes incredibly close – does the quality of the compositions back that up just as well.

For those unfamiliar with the music of the Seattleites, imagine a somewhat progressive mix of brutal guitar riffs, mindblowing solos (both of those are courtesy of the incredible Jeff Loomis), powerful grooves courtesy of drummer Van Williams and bassist Jim Sheppard, big, infectious choruses and occasional crazy dissonance. There isn’t really any band that sounds like Nevermore except the ones that imitated them later – Communic and Machinery spring to mind. This unique style is applied very well on any of their albums, it’s just that this album contains the most balanced and best written songs.

‘Dead Heart In A Dead World’ was released when I was 14 years old and I got it shortly after its release. Opening track ‘Narcosynthesis’ left a lasting impression immediately. At the time, I had never heard anything so crushingly heavy that didn’t disregard melody. That style is prominent on much of the album. Highlighting the heavy section of the record are ‘Inside Four Walls’, the fantastically built-up title track and the downright brilliant light-and-shade workings of ‘The River Dragon Has Come’. Also surprisingly heavy is Nevermore’s rendition of Simon & Garfunkel classic ‘The Sound Of Silence’; I have always loved the lyrics of that song and now, it gets the music it deserves. Trust me: you’ll hardly recognize it.

However, ‘Dead Heart In A Dead World’ has another side as well. Another source of – unjustified – hatred against Nevermore is the relatively large amount of ballads in their repertoire. They’re powerful and inspired ballads though. This album has three great ones. ‘Insignificant’ is almost delicate, if it wasn’t for the heavy chorus sections, the beautiful ‘Believe In Nothing’ tests the contrast between heavy and lighter sections and combines that with great lyrics and the dark ‘The Heart Collector’ became something of a minor classic for the band and it’s not hard to understand why; it’s a powerful, passionate song.

More than half of this album remained live staples until the band’s current and unfortunate hiatus. The material on ‘Dead Heart In A Dead World’ is incredible and all of the members’ performances are top notch here. All this contributes to the fact that it’s still one of the best albums yours truly has ever heard. It’s not just that Nevermore is a unique band, they’re one of the best bands that Heavy Metal ever had to offer. Need proof? ‘Dead Heart In A Dead World’ is definitely the best place to start.

Recommended tracks: ‘The River Dragon Has Come’, ‘Dead Heart In A Dead World’, ‘The Heart Collector’

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