On December 13, 2017, the worldwide metal community mourned the passing of a truly unique voice, an extremely gifted songwriter, and above all a wonderful human being, that will be dearly missed: Warrel Dane, who died of a heart attack during the recordings of his second solo album in São Paulo, Brazil.
Renowned for his work in SANCTUARY and NEVERMORE as well as a solo artist, in 2014 Warrel had teamed up with Brazilian musicians Johnny Moraes (guitar), Thiago Oliveira (guitar), Fabio Carito (bass) and Marcus Dotta (drums) as his touring band and ultimately this successful collaboration led to plans for a new studio album. Recordings for "Shadow Work", the follow-up to 2008's "Praises To The War Machine", started in fall 2017 at Orra Meu Studio, São Paulo, and Travis Smith commenced to create the artwork following a concept and ideas previously discussed with Warrel.
Then he passed away, left his fellow musicians, fans, friends and family as well as his label in shock putting the status of "Shadow Work" in limbo for a while.
After reviewing the material that could actually be completed using vocals from various studio and pre-production sessions with Warrel, the decision was made to release his final recordings as "Shadow Work" on October 26.
Essentially a tribute release, "Shadow Work" contains over 40 minutes of music with Warrel's voice tracked during pre-production, demo and recording sessions. The album's booklet was completed, with Smith providing artwork based upon concepts he had previously discussed with Warrel, thorough reconstructions of all lyrics from Warrel's notebook, personal testimonies by his Brazilian band, and very moving photos.
During the recording sessions for "Shadow Work", photographer Renan Facciolo visited Warrel's group in the studio to capture footage documenting the creation of the album.
Dane's bandmates explain: "This documentary was shot mostly during Warrel's final days, in late 2017. Although he was frail and his body was showing signs that it would eventually fade, at that time he was still putting his heart and soul in every part of 'Shadow Work'. We hope this stays as a testament to his artistic commitment and good will, when it came to producing an album in the studio."
Ultimately, his band members completed the documentary in 2018 to offer an insight into the promising beginning and tragic end of "Shadow Work".
Century Media's Jens Prüter (head of A&R, Europe) and Stefan Franke (product manager) add: "It is nearly impossible to watch this documentary with probably the last footage recorded of Warrel without getting emotional since, at some point in our lives, we and his fans were witnesses to his grandeur and failure, his strength and his frailty. The latter is obviously present in this moving video and we are grateful Warrel's family agreed on its public release. There is no glamour, no stardom in this video — it just depicts the shadow of a man passionately and endearingly being busy with 'Shadow Work', and a band being torn apart between ambition and tragedy. So, while we are glad to share it with you all, it is almost a relief to not have to watch it again."
"Shadow Work" will be released as a special-edition CD mediabook offering a 44-page booklet, as a gatefold LP plus CD and 12-page LP booklet and on all digital platforms. Each song is illustrated by Travis Smith's art, created as his personal tribute to Warrel and further explained in his personal liner notes. Furthermore, photos, lyrics and moving statements from the musicians are included as well.
Smith said: "[Warrel] told me he wanted the cover for this one to be a personification of one of its songs, affectionately titled 'Sweet Madame Satan, And Why.' I dug up the skeleton of an old idea we'd talked about once before, and with a few details and alterations of his own, it was exactly what he had envisioned. He 'loved it,' approved it, and then gave me an outline for what he wanted to do for the back cover to complement it as a sort of prologue.
"I finished the additional artwork taking inspiration from old conversations, titles, absorbing passages from his notebooks, and some lyrics that he'd passed along earlier...
"Thank you for everything these past 20 years... It was an honor. It will be missed. You are missed. I know we did you proud."
Added Thiago, Johnny, Fabio and Marcus: "To give birth to a work like this, is for us a tribute to someone that was like family and honor his memory by sharing some of the savage poetry that he created and was ultimately so proud of.
"Warrel came into our lives like a storm, took us into a very intense ride, we roamed endless roads into the unknown, into places that we never dreamed of both inside and outside our minds, and left. He was someone who lived with us, dreamed with us and enjoyed our hospitality, and in return gave us so much back. Some of us acted like his mother, some of us saw him as a father figure, some of us took care of him in some of his darkest moments. Yet he was a friend, and somehow, will be always there.
"To record such an album, and to work alongside an artist as gifted as Warrel, is somehow like being enthralled by his brightest light, and, at the same time being engulfed by his darkest shadow. There is so much to say, and yet nothing to say. In the meantime, we are proud to share this portrait of the storm we went through in form of art. Light, peace and love."
"Shadow Work" track listing:
01. Ethereal Blessing
02. Madame Satan
03. Disconnection System
04. As Fast As The Others
05. Shadow Work
06. The Hanging Garden (THE CURE cover)
08. Mother Is The Word For God