While Nevermore never quite broke into the mainstream, they always seemed to be just under the radar ready to make an impression. The band’s signature combination of proggy rhythms, gothic vocals, groovy chugs, extreme drums, and shredding solos seemed to have something for everyone in the Metal sphere, but their eccentric execution also meant they never found belonging in any single demographic. That all seemed like it was poised to change with their sixth album, 2005’s This Godless Endeavor (Century Media Records), which saw them gain greater exposure compared to their earlier efforts and more unanimous acclaim.
This ascension would suggest a more accessible sound in line with 2000’s Dead Heart In A Dead World, but This Godless Endeavor just might be the heaviest album under the Nevermore banner. This is immediately demonstrated by the opening ‘Born,’ which sees blasting drums and harsher vocal inflections interspliced with the band’s signature tropes to uncanny but inspiring effect. The production and musicianship on subsequent songs further emphasize the aggression as master producer Andy Sneap’s touches give the mix a savage crunch while the recruitment of former Testament/Dragonlord/Vicious Rumors guitarist Steve Smyth alongside Jeff Loomis caused an even greater power surge.
Thankfully, these extreme elements never undermine the band’s established melodicism and Warrel Dane’s broad vocals remain at the forefront. The soaring hooks on ‘The Final Product’ border on Power Metal grandiosity, tracks like ‘My Acid Words’ and ‘Medicated Nation’ do a splendid job of weaving catchy lines between the grinding riffs, and ‘Sell My Heart For Stones’ and ‘Sentient 6’ provide balladry with a crunchy edge. The lattermost track is an especially stunning display of Dane’s talents as he exhibits incredible control throughout while his lines seamlessly encompass his extensive range without excessively jumping around the scale.
It all comes together on the album’s closing title track. Just about every trick that the band has offered thus far is put to the test in a nine-minute epic that features a sudden but atmospheric acoustically driven beginning, urgently chugging verses, and an intensely fast climax that culminates in one of Dane’s rare post-Sanctuary falsettos. Considering how they hadn’t attempted a song of this lengthy nature since ‘The Learning’ on 1997’s The Politics of Ecstasy, it was quite nice to see them pull it off so splendidly.
But with all the things that the album itself had going for it, the band wasn’t able to make the most of the momentum. 2006 came with higher profile support tours but also with multiple members’ illnesses that interfered with several live dates. Dane and Loomis both released solo albums in 2008, which were received fairly well but not as impactful as a proper follow-up would’ve been. Fans were underwhelmed by the time The Obsidian Conspiracy was released in 2010, and subsequent conflicts caused Nevermore to splinter the following year. Warrel Dane’s tragic passing in 2017 ended any hope for a proper reunion.
Fifteen years later, This Godless Endeavor still stands as one of Nevermore’s most astounding achievements. While it wasn’t the band’s most musically accessible effort, the focus that was put into a heavier sound gave the album a more modern edge while still allowing their identity to shine through. It’s a shame to think of how the band could’ve reached an even greater commercial peak with better momentum behind them, but the consistent discography they left us is enough to highlight their significance to the scene at large. Let the Metal flow into eternity…