|Review: Warrel Dane - Praises To The War Machine|
|Praises To The War Machine|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: November 11, 2008
Reviewed by: Kevin Church
for:Praises To The War Machine
I've read a few reviews from various sources on the 'net concerning Warrel Dane's solo debut, and they are all very positive in nature. I have read many posts (including Warrel's own words on his Myspace page), fan comments, and reviews on other sites, all indicating that this album is a huge departure from Nevermore; a more "straightforward" set of songs. While I agree that the songs are slightly more straightforward than those of his alma mater, the riffs are still very technical in nature and some of the song-structures just don't lead to that 'tingling' sensation down one's spine.
Some have gone so far as to say that the album is a "must have for all fans of Nevermore". Well, in some respects, I disagree. I mean, if you want another Nevermore album, why not go buy one? This is a solo endeavour by a very talented individual, so why not look/hope for something different? Unfortunately, it really isn't the case for this album; it sounds a little like Nevermore, but much more so like Soilwork to these ears. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of Soilwork's music.
I will say, the musicianship showcased on this album is top-notch. The vocal hooks are a bit too sparse, for me. Dane's vocals are top-notch and very emotive at certain points, as only Warrel can do, but the catchy melodies, perhaps made most famous on Nevermore's Dead Heart in a Dead World (2001), are simply non-existent. Perhaps this links back to the specific nature of the lyrics. I think they were written with a great deal of emotion; Dane was definitely trying to get a few things off his chest on this outing. But, from a songwriting perspective, i.e., how the music and lyrics work together, they're simply not as strong as they probably could be.
It seems that the strongest aspect of many of the songs on the album is the chorus, but I have to complain a bit, because the choruses are too short! The hooks no sooner start to dig in, then they're ripped away from you with yet another boring, Soilwork-inspired series of guitar 'riffery' that lends very little (if anything) to the song itself. In fact, in many cases, the chorus and the rest of the song don't even sound like they belong together.
That being said, all of the tracks on this album offer something of interest to the listener. Specifically, tracks like "Messenger," "Let You Down," "Your Chosen Misery", "Brother," and "This Old Man" offer a wide variety of musical styles and, dare I say, departure from his Nevermore roots. Some are downright strange and left this listener thinking, "What???", but I personally think the approach is pretty cool and I must give credit to Dane for thinking outside the box — something that many bands and/or labels seem to be afraid of, these days. A prime example of this outside the box principle is "Your Chosen Misery;" anyone who can incorporate the phrase, "You self-serving, arrogant sycophant" into a song — and make it work — are just tops in my book.
Overall, the album sounds like a cross between Soilwork (music) and Nevermore (lyrics/vocals), with a bit of traditional Heavy Metal and perhaps even rock and goth elements thrown in for "colour". To those who were expecting something Gothic along the lines of the influences that were quoted on Warrel's Myspace page, unfortunately, you will be disappointed, as the album contains only the slightest hint of "old-school goth"; specifically, the Sisters of Mercy cover. Oddly enough, as I'm writing this, I'm starting to realize that one of the stand-out performances on the album seems to be the Sisters of Mercy cover, "Lucretia My Reflection"! Dane also turns in an interesting performance on the Paul Simon cover "Patterns", which comes close to surpassing the Nevermore cover of "The Sound of Silence" for this music fan. But my personal favourite track is without a doubt "This Old Man"; it's a bit of an emotional roller-coaster for me, one which would benefit from a well-thought-out video along the lines of "Brother" (also noteworthy).
Maybe the lack of "feel" for me on this album is simply the result of enlisting the wrong people for the job. I can't help but question the wisdom of inviting two-fifths of a band that had a very particular sound and a reasonable amount of success in the metal industry, both of whom appear to have been the core of that band, to help write your solo album. And then, having one of those individuals produce the album on top of it all? One thing that bothers me is the arrangement of the track listing. Maybe if it were a bit more organized and with more "flow" to it, the album would have made a bit more sense to me.
Despite all of the commentary above, I have noticed that the album has started to grow on me the more I listen to it. In fact, it has made its way into my top playlist in the past week, which is something I definitely did not anticipate when I first listened to the album. In the end, I think it is slightly above-average as a first attempt at solo songwriting from a seasoned veteran in the metal industry. Nonetheless, I consider the purchase (yes, I buy my music) a reasonable one and I certainly look forward to a much stronger outing from Warrel next time around, as I am a huge fan and supporter of his abilities as an artist.
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