Praises To The War Machine
posted on 5/2008 By:
Nevermore has been a long standing favorite of mine since the beginning of my tenure as a metal-head. They have long been the crunchy, thrash-oriented Queensryche that I never had. While that is a trite and often unfair comparison, I'd say safely that I am, and always will be, a bigger fan of Nevermore. Vocalist Warrel Dane has impressed me time and time again with his ability to hit Halford highs and Peter Steele lows, and everything in between. So the concept of a Warrel Dane solo album intrigued me from the get go and while Praises to the War Machine is a more than solid effort, it's not perfect.
Praises To The War Machine is not a wholly different animal from Nevermore and therein lies some of the dissappointment. Warrel doesn't pull any new tricks out of his magic bag of vocal tricks and not every song is as memorable as the one before it. On the other hand, there are some very good songs on here and the cover of Sisters of Mercy's "Lucretia My Reflection" is awesome as Warrel brandishes his "goth-y" low vocals. I'm almost dissappointed this influence isn't as apparent on the other songs on here.
Praises.... could almost be described as Nevermore light. The guitars dont' get quite as down and dirty as Mr. Loomis and co. but this is what separates this from being the next Nevermore album. Peter Wichers' (ex-Soilwork) is all over this thing as producer, guitarist, and bassist. His influence is made very apparent as there are a number of instrumental moments that are uncannily similar to his former band. It's refreshing as the album dabbles in both Nevermore and later Soilwork territory but never fully commits to either sound. Thus qualifying this as a bonafide solo album.
Album opener "When We Pray" has some epic, soaring vocals from Warrel and "Obey" features some tasty leads from Mr. Jeff Loomis himself. "Your Chosen Misery", my favorite song on Praises..., is an effective acoustic ballad and shows Warrel's command of his voice with some self-harmonized vocal lines that are octaves apart. This song also breaks up the album after it's rather lull middle portion, which features two forgettable tracks in "Let You Down" and "August". "The Day The Rats Went to War" begins with one of those "Soilwork moments" I mentioned and strays into Queensryche territory (Operation: Mindcrime era) for the chorus, an interesting transition. The guitar solo from James Murphy at around the 2:15 mark is an extra bonus.
Praises to the War Machine will not win any new Nevermore fans but will surely keep the ones that have remained loyal to one of metal's more consistent acts. Despite the forgettable material on here ("Let You Down", "Brother"), there's more than enough to salivate over ("Your Chosen Misery", "The Day The Rats Went To War"). Mr. Dane proves here that he still has lots to offer and that there are stlll many good things to come. Although there is the inevitable likeness to Geoff Tate that I pretend to ignore, I can't help but list Warrel as one of my favorite clean vocalists in metal and Praises to the War Machine, as uneven as it is, does nothing to refute this.
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