"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Nevermore - "In Memory (reissue)" (CD)

Nevermore - "In Memory (reissue)" CD cover image

"In Memory (reissue)" track listing:

1. Optimist Or Pessimist
2. Matricide
3. In Memory
4. Silent Hedges/Double Dare
5. Sorrowed Man
6. The Tiananmen Man (Demo)
7. The Seven Tongues Of God (Demo)
8. Passenger (Demo)
9. This Sacrament (Demo)
10. 42147 (Demo)

Reviewed by on January 24, 2010

"This incarnation of Nevermore was a potent one indeed, with guitar mainstay Jeff Loomis joined by a pre-Cannibal Corpse Pat O'Brien to provide a twin-guitar assault for the ages."

Nevermore is one of those bands that it's impossible to put into any one category, and in the space of one 1996 EP, "In Memory," they showed just how varied they could be without sacrificing a sense of coherent identity. The 2006 reissue adds to the fun with five bonus tracks culled from the sessions for the full-length album they were working at the time, "The Politics Of Ecstacy."

This incarnation of Nevermore was a potent one indeed, with guitar mainstay Jeff Loomis joined by a pre-Cannibal Corpse Pat O'Brien to provide a twin-guitar assault for the ages. Loomis once auditioned for Megadeth, and the thrashy opener "Optimist Or Pessimist" definitely shows that influence (Loomis, by the way, didn't get the gig largely because of his age — he was 16 at the time). What separates this song from the thrash fold, though, is the quieter section (albeit one with a furious solo) and more importantly, the sense of optimism in the lyrics, with Dane singing at the end that "As I paint this picture gray and taste the pain, I'll play the optimist again."

"Matricide" has a similar contrast between light and dark, with Dane first singing of the destruction we've heaped upon Mother Earth, before ending with a plea to "think of our little ones, for whom the world has just begun." The song's got a heavier progressive metal feel that borders on thrash sometimes, but never quite crosses that line. It's going to get repetitive talking about how great the guitar work is, but it bears mentioning again. On the other hand, some of Dane's lyrics get a bit silly with him talking about people suckling at the breast of the planet.

The elegaic "In Memory" was written in memory of Loomis and Dane's previous band, Sanctuary, and has a sense of lost possibilities that is quite intriguing. It takes off into an almost doom metal section in the middle, with an appealing heaviness.

That sense of doom continues into "Silent Hedges/Double Dare," a somewhat unlikely Bauhaus cover given a metal makeover. Dane says Bauhaus mainman Peter Murphy likes the version — and so do I.

The original EP ends with the beautiful "Sorrowed Man," which reminds me a bit of Queensryche. It's the sole song on the original EP that doesn't sound a little bit tinny due to some questionable production decisions.

The next five tracks are demos from the recording of "The Politics Of Ecstacy," but they sound more complete in many ways than the original "In Memory" EP, at least until the solos kick in (the ones in "The Tianenmen Man" are particularly tinny). I particularly enjoyed Jim Sheppard's bass line in "The Tianenmen Man."

Of the five demos, my favorites are the thrashy "The Seven Tongues Of God" and the high-speed instrumental "42147," but "This Sacrament" and "Passenger" aren't bad either. Like I said earlier, the production is a bit warmer on the demos, which makes for a more appealing sound.

All in all, this is a reissue that does everything it should. It gives a glimpse back at one of the highlights of the band's history, while also giving you some new material from that time to add value.

Nevermore would go on to record better material, but "In Memory" was an early classic, made moreso by the addition of the addition of the excellent demos to this reissue. From thrash to doom to beautiful balladry, this album has it all.

Highs: "Optimist Or Pessimist," "Sorrowed Man," "The Seven Tongues Of God," "42147"

Lows: Tinny sound detracts slightly from the enjoyment.

Bottom line: An early Nevermore classic improved by the addition of demo recordings.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)