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Dane, Warrel: Praises To the War Machine

When word leaked out that Warrel Dane was going to be working on a solo album, people automatically panicked and assumed that the end of Nevermore might be near. Fret not folks, Dane was just looking for an outlet for some different types of songs that wouldn't necessarily fit into the Nevermore cannon, the end result being the excellent Praises to the War Machine. With help from former Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers, current Soilwork drummer Dirk Verbeuren, and ex-Himsa guitarist Matt Wicklund (both he and Wichers play bass on the album), Warrel has crafted a very dark and personal sounding modern metal record here.

Having a co-writing partner in Wichers was a good move for Dane, and the guitar players' new found love for producing is also on display here with Praises To the War Machine. Overall, this is a great sounding release, but make no mistake about it, this is not a Nevermore album, but it certainly should appeal to fans of the band due to the commanding vocal performance of Dane. Here, it's not about shredding guitar work and intricate rhythms, but more about a heavy groove, mood, atmosphere, and a flair for the dramatic. Tunes like "When We Pray", "Messenger", "Brother", and "Obey" mix heavy riffs with dreary gothic tones steeped in melancholy. Dane shows how much he loves the goth scene with his cover of the Sisters of Mercy classic "Lucretia My Reflection", and lets his heart pour out on the poignant "Let You Down" and "Your Chosen Misery", both pieces showing a side to the singer that we've not heard before. In fact, Dane's vocals are extremely varied here, as he displays a multitude of husky lower registered tones that would sound right at home on any gothic metal album, choosing his powerful Nevermore wail only on a few tracks, most notably "The Day The Rats Went To War", "Patterns", and the raucous "Equilibrium".

The end result is a very organic sounding solo release from Warrel Dane, not something that will open itself up to you on first spin, but one that shows you its richness after repeated listens. The guitar work from Wichers & Wicklund is solid without being flashy, and Verbeuren really does a nice job throughout the CD. Dane on the other hand shows why he is considered one of the finest metal singers on the planet. His performance here is quite impressive, as he takes his vocals down avenues not travelled previously in his career, and by doing so gives us a snapsot of Warrel Dane the man, not just Warrel Dane the singer for Nevermore.

Track Listing
1. When We Pray 3:38
2. Messenger 3:58
3. Obey 3:14
4. Lucretia My Reflection 4:38
5. Let You Down 3:53
6. August 3:48
7. Your Chosen Misery 4:09
8. The Day The Rats Went To War 3:37
9. Brother 3:23
10. Patterns 4:00
11. This Old Man 3:43
12. Equilibrium 3:52

Added: May 12th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Warrel Dane Website
Hits: 3673
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Dane, Warrel: Praises To the War Machine
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-05-12 07:18:44
My Score:

On Warrel Dane's inaugural solo album, the only thing that resembles Nevermore is his vocals. Other than that, from songwriting to production to the overall construction of the music, this is a completely different piece of work, which is great considering artists should release solo albums in order to step out of the confines of their respective bands, not to repeat their past glories.

The first set of listens are likely to result in mixed feelings, not because the music presented here is a disappointment, but, rather because of the fact that one will discover Dane's immense love for non-metal influences, most notably old-school goth music. The album is comprised of song-based material, where Dane is joined by former Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers and ex-Himsa axeman Matt Wicklund, both of whom have had a tremendous impact on the final form of the compositions. For instance, Matt Wicklund's arrangement of the Sisters of Mercy tune "Lucretia My Reflection" has lent it a distinctly metal flavour. However, Dane opts for a deep, gothic delivery, especially during the spoken parts, which is unlike anything he's done before.

Being a solo album, most of the songs are personal statements inspired by Dane's life, like the tragic "Brother", which he calls the most personal song of his entire life; or "This Old Man", where he exudes some of his most powerful and heartfelt vocals ever. Likewise, "Messenger", with its metaphor-filled lyrical agenda, weaves delicate synth textures and a full bass bottom, climaxing with Jeff Loomis' guest appearance.

The bleak acoustic guitars of "Let You Down" briefly recall Opeth, though the song is more of a synthesis of everything Nevermore fans love about Warrel Dane: a deep, husky voice blended with powerful outbursts of guitar crunch and mood-intensive acoustic passages. Once again, the lead guitar work here is emotionally engaging and very well integrated into the three-minute running time.

Aside from that, the cool synth layerings of "Your Chosen Misery", in which the final part gets punishingly heavy; the great drumming of "August" courtesy of Dirk Verbeuren (though he's just a session player, strangely enough, I cannot imagine listening to any of these tracks with a different drummer); and the groove-oriented drive of the other cover tune "Patterns" (Paul Simon) all add to the diversity and unity of Praises to the War Machine.

Those expecting any thrash metal onslaughts are advised to wait for the next Nevermore album, but still, Dane's snarling vocals, the slamming drumming and melodic signature guitars of "When We Pray" and the almost thrashy opening of "The Day the Rats Went To War", with its stab at corrupt politicians, certainly connect Dane to the band we all love and respect. James Murphy plays a sick, dirty guitar solo on the latter, not too different from his wicked playing on This Godless Endeavor, in order to match the subject matter.

"Obey", penned by guitarist Peter Wichers, also boasts a worthwhile rhythm workout and a totally unexpected blues-inflected guitar solo, which is built around non-tonal guitar language. Actually Chris Broderick was supposed to play on this one, but it didn't work out once he was hired by Dave Mustaine as the new Megadeth guitarist. The last song "Equilibrium" had me think of Nevermore the first couple of times, but that has waned now. It is comparatively heavier with perhaps the most melodic and smooth guitar solo on the whole record.

For years, fans wondered what it'd be like if Warrel Dane were to release a solo album -- here it is. Quite different from both Sanctuary and Nevermore, but definitely worth picking up. This man has one of the most unique and amazing vocals in all of metal, and this record is his proof.

» Reader Comments:

Dane, Warrel: Praises To the War Machine
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-07-25 10:39:32
My Score:

This is my pick for cd of the year. If you purchase the German edition digibook there is a bonus track "Everything is Fading" that is one of the best songs recorded for these sessions. The more you listen to this, the better it gets and the songs stay around for a long time after you have moved on to something else.

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