Dead Heart in a Dead World - NEVERMORE

Having finally made the decision to switch producers from longtime collaborator Neil Kernon (who worked on the band's first three efforts) to the much younger and "hipper" Andy Sneap, NEVERMORE have beefed up their sound ten-fold and moved away from the fuzzy mess that made their earlier recordings so difficult to listen to, instantly making Dead Heart In A Dead World by far and away their most accessible album to date. Whereas the group's last couple of albums were lacking in definition and were virtually impossible to play at loud volumes without giving oneself a headache, the quintet's latest release is a much warmer-sounding and ultimately considerably more effective affair, with a thick, heavy guitar sound that was sadly lacking from the band's previous releases.

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Musically, NEVERMORE have seemingly trimmed the fat from their songwriting a bit, with most of the material featuring simpler structures and riffs that are not quite so dizzyingly complex as was often the case on some of the group's earlier efforts. And in a move that is sure to be welcomed with open arms by all SANCTUARY fans, vocalist Warrel Dane has gone back to incorporating more of his upper register into his execution, in the process coming across as more inspired and focused than he has in years.

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Way too heavy to be considered "old school" and much too melodic to comfortably fit into the current rock musical climate (in the US, at least), NEVERMORE have nevertheless produced an album that has all the makings of a soon-to-be metal classic. Miss it at your peril.

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