Manifesto of Nevermore

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As the (arguably) preeminent traditional heavy metal band on Century Media's predominantly extreme-leaning roster, Seattle's Nevermore at times seemed to get lost in the shuffle -- or at least amidst the deafening Cookie Monster growling -- of their labelmates. But as this volume in CM's Manifesto series easily confirms, theirs were unimpeachable credentials for consistent songwriting from album to album, while finding frequently unexplored nooks and crannies within the classic metal playbook, and, yes, borrowing a few tricks from their noisier death and black metal brethren when it suited them. The key to that consistency surely lies in the remarkably lasting and fruitful creative co-existence between singer Warrell Dane and guitarist Jeff Loomis from day one back in 1992 (and even further back, actually, in their prior band, Sanctuary), thus making it possible for each of the Nevermore's releases to be represented by one or two tracks here, with no missteps along the way. Instead, the band's more aggressive numbers ("Born," "Enemies of Reality") mosh very comfortably alongside borderline progressive efforts ("Dreaming Neon Black," "The Seven Tongues of God"), and even quasi-ballads ("Believe in Nothing," "Matricide"). This is also one of the few greatest-hits sets structured in reverse chronological order you'll ever encounter that doesn't significantly diminish in quality along the way (well, just a little) -- at least not until the very first album's noticeably inferior "What Tomorrow Knows" (track 12 here), and this is easily offset by the live rendition of "The Heart Collector" that wraps everything up. In every other respect, Manifesto provides an excellent summation of Nevermore's career and an ideal first discovery for new fans, only leaving one to worry about the four-year lapse between its arrival and the band's most recent studio album, 2005's This Godless Endeavor.

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