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Neverdream - "Souls 26-04-1986" (CD)

Neverdream - "Souls 26-04-1986" CD cover image

"Souls 26-04-1986" track listing:

1. Silence
2. Burning The Hopes
3. Victims
4. Across The Tears
5. Looking The Lies
6. Waterfall
7. City Of Ghosts
8. Souls

Reviewed by on April 16, 2009

"In listening to 'Souls,' I realized that this is really the closest thing to a rock symphony that I've heard in a long time, with the songs amounting to movements in a greater whole."

One of the greatest things about music is that it can create beauty out of even the worst tragedy. This is certainly the case with Neverdream's "Souls 26-04-1986," a concept album on the horrors that happened in April, 1986 in Chernobyl.

Chernobyl, for those of you too young to remember, was the site of what is arguably the worst nuclear disaster in human history, with a reactor explosion that threw fallout over much of Europe. We'll probably never know how many people died that day or in the aftermath, due to Soviet-era secrecy. Beyond that, Chernobyl was also a signal that the end was near for the Soviet Union, showing how badly the Soviet infrastructure had decayed.

Could any band manage to encapsulate all of that in an entertaining way in an hour's worth of music? Neverdream accomplishes that and more by creating a soundscape that is both beautiful and horrifying.

The album is split into two parts, with the first half being the tale of a child orphaned by the disaster. The second is the story of a Soviet soldier whose family dies as a result of the accident, and, discovering that what he has served for is a lie, kills himself.

"Silence," the opener, sets the mood perfectly, opening with a burst of synthesizer that sounds like an electric growl before giving way to Giuseppe Marinelli's thick guitars. As singer Giorgio Massimi delivers the vocals in a near-whisper, Mauro Neri plays a light but ominous piano part. Musically, the song takes a trip from modern metal back to the 1980s near the middle, with Marinelli's guitar sounding a bit Steve Vai-ish, before a saxophone break, played by Fabrizio Dottori, who also handles the programming heard on the album. Given that the '80s were kind of the last hurrah for the saxophone in rock music, I found it entirely appropriate to hear that instrument here.

The despair of the orphan is laid bare in "Victims," in which Massimi sings of the state-run orphanage as being "a place where children like me think about their death."

The second half of the album, dealing with the soldier's suicide, is equally powerful, with "Looking The Lies" opening with a news announcer talking about radiation and the disaster.

Equally disturbing is the beginning of "Waterfall," which begins with what we're meant to assume is the fatal gunshot — followed by what could either be laughter or tears.

In listening to "Souls," I realized that this is really the closest thing to a rock symphony that I've heard in a long time, with the songs amounting to movements in a greater whole.

The album does slow down a bit at the end, with the title track featuring some instrumental excess. Additionally, Massimi's vocals occasionally have to compete a little bit much with the instrumentation, but those are really small quibbles.

With "Souls 26-04-1986," Neverdream has created a spectacular work of musical art that captures the horror of one of the worst tragedies of our age.

Highs: Chilling lyrics of "Victims," music that captures the mood and era of the disaster.

Lows: Some songs toward the end drag a bit.

Bottom line: A spectacular concept album that brings beauty out of human tragedy.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)