I don’t know how many times I have come across old school metalheads who hate grunge. It’s just a common phenomena that I’ve grown to accept. It’s understandable too. As soon as bands like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains became popular, record labels everywhere were trying to cash in on this sound. It did in fact have an effect on heavy metal at that time, as some labels were trying to pursue thrashers to step in the direction of flannel wearing sensitive rockers. Some groups gave into the pressure while others laughed at these suggestions and continued to thrash their fingers off.
Needless to say, by the early 90’s glam metal was on its death bed, much of the thrash metal community was divided, and extreme metal was pushed way into the underground. Sanctuary, a thrash band from Seattle, was one of the divided. While some group members considered “grunging” up their thrash sound, vocalist Warrel Dane and bassist Jim Sheppard opposed this change and decided to leave the band. After recruiting Jeff Loomis for guitar duties, Nevermore was born. So, in away, the grunge movement unintentionally and indirectly gave us one of the greatest thrash bands of the 1990s.
Nevermore truly had a unique sound. Overall, the sound seemed to arouse feelings of darkness, dread, anger, and even anxiety. This was especially prevalent on albums such as “Dead Heart in a Dead World” and “Dreaming Neon Black” (two crucial albums for any metal heads collection). Musically they were very much a thrash metal band, but they adopted elements of progressive metal such as technical riffing and non-standard song structures, as well as power metal, particularly in the operatic vocals of Dane. Elements of groove metal came into play after Loomis adopted the use of seven-string guitars. Oh and their ballads, damn their ballads were disturbingly beautiful! I think I mentioned something a while back about how Shadows Fall writes some of the best contemporary metal ballads, and while I still hold onto that claim, I must say that Nevermore did them just as good if not better. Something about the slowed down neo-classical stylings of Jeff Loomis meshed perfectly with the emotionally distraught lyrics of Warrel Dane in these songs.
On the topic of lyrics, their songs were always serious, and oftentimes seemingly pessimistic. The entire “Dreaming Neon Black” album was about a man’s descent into madness after losing a loved one. Critiques of religion were recurring as well as scathing commentaries about our political system, and unlike some thrash metal vocalists (names don’t need to be named), these lyrics never came off as sounding cheesy. In other words, Nevermore was not the type of band that one could just write off as being generic thrash.
Although Nevermore is currently on hiatus, it’s worth your time to go back and listen to their older releases. “Dead Heart in a Dead World” is usually on my periodic rotation list of music. Listen to either this album or “Dreaming Neon Black” (or any of their albums honestly) on an overcast day for a true aesthetic experience. And just like the old saying goes, “the cynic’s favorite band isn’t Cynic, it’s Nevermore”.