This week it’s time to have a look at one of metal’s now-bygone bands. They were heralded yet quite underrated, always noticed but never quite breaking through to the heights many thought they ought to achieve. The album in question would be recognized by many as one of the best (if not the best) they have done.
Nevermore – This Godless Endeavor
Released July 26, 2005 via Century Media Records
My Favorite Tracks – Medicated Nation, The Psalm Of Lydia, Sentient 6
The album marked the band’s sixth effort. The core lineup of vocalist Warrel Dane, guitarist Jeff Loomis, bassist Jim Sheppard and drummer Van Williams would remain. They would be joined on guitar by Steve Smyth, formerly of Testament.
The band would continue plying their trade in a straightforward metal sound that often defied categorization. While they “fit in” with the power metal scene, they were not power metal. Elements of thrash would appear but Nevermore certainly were not a thrash act. I don’t think they ever got properly sub-categorized in the whole of their 20 year history, though no such sub-category may exist.
The album runs 11 tracks in just under an hour, and with one being a very short instrumental. I’ll get it out of the way now so I don’t have to mention it on every song – the guitar work is absolutely out of this world. Jeff Loomis is a world-class guitarist and he was complemented well by Steve Smyth. The guitars are always high points of Nevermore albums.
The opener goes hard and heavy, kicked up a notch even for Nevermore. The song is an indictment of the stagnant pool of beliefs that keep society pinned down from progress.
Another brutal number in both music and verse. More about the negative aspects of the world and how they are dragging everything down. Pretty spot on and very much unimproved from the 17 years since this song first hit.
My Acid Words
Yet again with the caustic and harsh assessments, the band does not relent via instruments and Warrel Dane goes even harder with the lyrics. It is a cold and ultimately heartless conclusion rendered in the song. I had thought that Dane had said this song had to do with his brother but I imagine that would have been an interview from a print magazine and I can’t find it to confirm. I do believe my recollection is correct, though. It was obviously a tragic story.
A song that several cite as their least-favorite from the record but one I enjoy. There are two distinct lyrics being delivered in the pre-chorus, which takes a moment to get used to and can easily be missed. The song is a dirge about the fat and happy minions feasting on the remains of a dying society.
The music turns down a notch to deliver a quasi-ballad. Of course the ballad is not typical fare lyrically – this song is about some sort of artificial intelligence being that struggles with the questions of humanity, tries to become like humans, then ultimately decides to destroy humans. All of the songs have happy endings on this album.
Also catch the Jimi Hendrix tribute, paid lyrically in the first verse.
Another of the album’s highlights for me and a track with possibly dual meanings. The literal interpretation of society being over-medicated is very real and very well discussed here. But many speculate that the intent goes beyond that and into the media, belief systems and various ways people figuratively medicate themselves from the realities of life and civilization.
The Holocaust Of Thought
A brief instrumental at not quite 1.5 minutes long. It features solo work from guest James Murphy, a metal guitar luminary who has logged work with Death, Obituary, Cancer and Testament, among many others.
A bit of an aside – in the mid 2000’s I was on a few message boards and on one of them, some guy complained endlessly about this song being on the album. Like, it’s not even two minutes long and you probably have it on CD anyway, just skip it dude. It just cracked me up because he complained about it at every possible opportunity, like maybe he was getting a dollar per complaint from someone, I don’t know. I just wanted to make sure I have that noted for posterity’s sake.
Sell My Heart For Stones
This song does stand out in a few ways. It is another quasi-ballad, so it gives a bit of a breather. It is also has a far, far more positive outlook than what has been playing so far. It’s honestly a breath of fresh air to actually have something philosophically positive for once.
The Psalm Of Lydia
This song picks the pace back up and goes into a bit of fantasy territory, at least a shade. Lydia seems to be a mythical, prophetic figure who winds up “slaying the demons.” Perhaps Lydia is slaying the metaphorical demons being chased throughout the first part of the album, there is lyrical evidence to make that conclusion. And also this song is guitar solo after guitar solo, just a magnificent work. No clue who Lydia actually is or what this song’s true composition is about, but it gets the job done.
A Future Uncertain
Heading towards the album’s close is this ponderous affair that offers a bit more introspection and hope than the savage beginning half. The song doesn’t quite arrive at its own lyrical conclusions but that’s probably surmised by the title.
This Godless Endeavor
We close on an epic, nearly nine-minute movement that questions the meaning of life and searches for answers in the void. The song does not waste its time, rather it keeps moving with more philosophical lyrical fare and, of course, more guitar.
This Godless Endeavor was a significant work for Nevermore, the work was praised by critics and the band toured with several acts during the cycle – they would open for old friend Dave Mustaine and Megadeth and would even get a support slot with Disturbed in 2006. In hindsight it is considered one of their best two albums and is often found at number one on a lot of lists. Even back in late 2009 when I was blogging elsewhere I named it one of my top five albums of the decade of the 2000’s.
Nevermore would not get to realize much greater promise from their masterpiece. Health problems beset, well, the entire band save Jeff Loomis in 2006-07. The group would record one more album in 2010, then split up. Loomis would link up with Michael Amott in Arch Enemy, while Warrel Dane would resurrect the pre-Nevermore outfit Sanctuary. Reunion talk began in the mid 2010’s but was ended when Warrel Dane died of a heart attack in 2017.
I have always felt Nevermore was a band that was kept a bit too far under the radar. A lot of people knew them and were into them, yet they didn’t latch on in a wider fashion. Their sound was heavy but not alienating to many listeners like extreme metal often is. And the sometimes very heavy lyrical matter is dressed in a higher vocabulary that keeps it from being just some noisy ranting about the world. Maybe the really were “just” a metal band without a way to further sub-categorize them, but they certainly were not “just” a metal band.