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Penetration Point (Re-Issue)
I don't really get it... The CD version of NASTY SAVAGE's 1989 farewell album "Penetration Point" turned into a kinda hard to find item throughout the last couple of years and even though Crook'd Records finally re-issued it, the whole release still leaves me quite disappointed. Why? Well, first of all I don't like the idea of changing the original artwork, which especially in NASTY SAVAGE's case had become a unique trademark for them back in the 80's. In my opinion the surrealistic art of Van Dercar just fitted the twisted material perfectly. So, to replace that with an x-ray shot of a stabbed skull just seems pretty dull to me. Furthermore the booklet features nothing but the lyrics (at least...) and the disc itself comes without any bonus tracks or anything. Some more extras definitely would've been nice here. Songwise "Penetration Point" was NASTY SAVAGE's weakest offering, but compared to all the crappy stuff that comes out these days, it still stands kinda strong in the new millennium. The weird songstructures, the overall technical approach and the unique guitarwork are in the typical NASTY SAVAGE style and can easily compete with the band's previous outputs. But when it comes to Nasty Ronnie's vocal delivery, these songs were just not of the same class. You only hear his charismatic high screams once (in 'Ritual Submission') on the whole album, that's why the rest of the disc lacks his memorable vocal melodies and the connected variety. So, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that my favorite track on here is the killer instrumental 'Horizertical'. Like I said, still a standout disc nowadays, but not entirely of the usual high NASTY SAVAGE standards.
Dreaming Neon Black
Reviewing high caliber albums from proven Power/Speed Metal acts can present a challenge - in that the readers wonder if the reviewer's words can fully capture what they need to make an adequate purchasing decision. Seattle's answer to this quagmire NEVERMORE unleashes a jaw dropping third album, a 13 song concept record that delivers a story and sonic soundtrack for all sub-genres of the Metallic underground to admire. The story unfolds of a man driven insane due to his loss of a true love - she has vanished and appears to be dead after joining a cult. Recurring dreams become an obsession for him, eventually causing an untimely demise for the protagonist. Musically NEVERMORE favor a cross between the simpler, Doom driven debut album and the sub level technicality of the foll ow up The Politics Of Ecstasy - yet adding new touches with female backing vocals and acoustic guitars. While guitarists Jeff Loomis and Tim Calvert (ex-FORBIDDEN) lay down massive riff foundations, the solos seem to take a back seat over creating stirring arrangements that work based on each song's needs. The rhythm section of drummer Van Williams and bassist Jim Sheppard lock and carry home Heavy, bottom end walls of fury, while vocalist Warrel Dane pours out screams and emotive melodies that mortal Metal singers dream to achieve once in their recording career. I equally enjoy the thrashier moments of "Beyond Within" and "I Am The Dog" as well as the more morose "Cenotaph" and despondent closing track "Forever". A sound unto their own, NEVERMORE showcase how shifting moods of anger and gloom can prove fruitful and forceful if people give the album half a chance. If your collection includes SOLITUDE AETURNUS, ICED EARTH, JAG PANZER or QUEENSRYCHE - you would be remiss without "Dreaming Neon Black".
Dead Heart In A Dead World
Album title of the year, a very nice cover art-work and back to the future of SANCTUARY, here we have it - the best NEVERMORE album along with the "In Memory" ep. I had serious doubt that the Seattle based semi-legends were still a traditional Metal band as the modern as well as too complex parts and the non-melodic misuc that was featured much too much through the last two albums was disappointing. What happened? Did Warrel Dane discover that his SANCTUARY performances transported more emotion and power than his apathic singing on "The Politics Of Ecstasy" or partly on "Dreaming Neon Black"? It seems so. The opener "Narcosynthesis" begins very well and has a good melody line, but is still away from the "Into The Mirror Black" quality. Then it increases a lot with the best song "We Disintegrate" which brings back "Future Tense" or "Seasons Of Destruction" feelings and Warrel delivers out-of-this-world singing - just excellent. The band still adds a few modern parts to their Power Metal (the staccato riffing in "Inside Four Walls") but far less on this album as the parts are better integrated and the increased atmospheric parts on "Insignificant", "Evolution 169", "The River Dragon Has Come" or "The Heart Collector" with its killer refrain offer the deep emotional side of NEVERMORE which I loved so much on the "In Memory" killer release. I can't believe it - there are REAL melodies again... With the cover "The Sound Of Silence" they go to new territories as they arranged this SIMON AND GARFUNKEL song as a Thrash Metal track with insane riffing - awesome. I am surprised, and I am sure they'll make a big commercial step forward with this output.