Dreaming Neon Black

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With their sprawling, progressive balladry mixed with speed metal turns, Nevermore seem to retreat from the consistent power metal stance of Politics of Ecstasy on 1999's Dreaming Neon Black. On this, their third full-length release for the giant indie metal label Century Media, the band slips creatively, rehashing concepts and sonics from their earlier material. The struggles could be due in part to the group's first lineup change in their six-year history as ex-Forbidden guitarist Tim Calvert joins Warrel Dane (vocals), Van Williams (drums), James Sheppard (bass), and guitarist Jeff Loomis. Slogging through familiar-sounding numbers like "Deconstruction," "All Play Dead," and three other slow-paced, vocal-driven ballads, Nevermore seem to be losing steam. The ex-Sanctuary core of Dane, Loomis, and Sheppard don't stray too far from their earlier work, as the cleanly arpeggiated melodrama takes the forefront much like 1996's In Memory. Fast numbers like "Fault of the Flesh" and "Beyond Within" have a modern thrash spark, suggesting Calvert's influence might have actually been a positive but limited one. Nevermore always produce quality work, especially with regards to their musicianship; however, Dreaming Neon Black, with its slow-paced track list and subpar melodies is not the band's best effort.

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