Review of Politics of Ecstasy by Nevermore
Soaring vocals, snarling guitar riffs and incredibly inventive playing. Plus it is a concept album, so I'm sold.
Jeff Loomis plays guitar for Nevermore. You really should need no further convincing, but Pat O'Brien exchanges riffs of Hades with Loomis on this album. It rarely gets better than this.
It took me quite a while to get used to Van Williams' metronome-like drumming. At first, I didn't really get into it because I am accustomed to flashy drummers like Richard Christy, who employ loads of cymbals. After a while, the incredible precision took its toll and I can't really picture any other drummer in Nevermore.
Van Williams employs more drums, making his playing more brutal. That's the ultimate strength of this band - every player is a merited working part of the machine. This reminds me of what Legalism had in mind for government.
Legalism as personified by Nevermore
Legalism is one of the four prominent schools of Chinese philosophy during their Spring and Autumn period, the others being Taoism, Confucianism and Mohism.
Taoism deals with the true nature of matters, which is why Megadeth and Slayer personify Taoism in my books. Confucianism taught an unconditional hierarchy of specialised filial relationships while Mohism taught equality of all people, and these are not really applicable to Nevermore (or anywhere else, really).
Legalism on the other hand focuses on trying to establish a meritocracy.
Han Fei's proposals for leadership under legalism
- Fa: Law or principle. It is obvious that metal is the law for Nevermore. Legalism considers all people equal before the law, but holds that the law must punish those who break the law and reward those who abide by it. This is why Trivium is punished with bottles of piss and Necrophagist is rewarded with awesome Ibanez guitar endorsements.
- Shu: Secret tactics. These are used by the ruler to maintain the law. Nobody should be able to fathom the tactics of rule to the extent that they would want to establish rule by themselves. The idea is that subjects would see no other alternative to getting ahead other than following the law.
When they follow the law, they think they are acting towards their own benefit. In principle, they are acting towards their own benefit within the meritocracy but they are also acting towards maintaining harmony. Nevermore's secret tactics include hiring jaw-dropping session musicians like Chris Broderick.
- Shi: Legitimacy. The position of the ruler must hold power in itself by virtue of the law. The ruler is merely the catalyst for the law. Jeff Loomis is definitely a legitimate guitar god any way you look at it - legally or illegally.
Metal became known for death vocals lately, but some exponents still stick to the standards of Dio, Halford and Dickinson. Nevermore is one such band. While the vocals does get rough at points, it never goes into death growls. This means you can actually hear what Warrel Dane is singing about. Unlike Metallica, it's not a case of you'd rather not hear the tripe he is singing.
Jeff Loomis. Guitar god by day, merchant of menace by night.
The album title is from the book by Dr Timothy Leary of the same name, however Dane has stated that the album is more about control issues and spirituality than better living through chemistry. Thus, the album has more in common with politics than ecstasy. You really need not concern yourself with any of these concepts. The ultimate proof of a successful concept album is that the music speaks for itself, and it does on all Nevermore albums.
- The Seven Tongues of God
- This Sacrament
- Next in Line
- The Politics of Ecstasy
- The Tiananmen
- The Learning
- Love Bites (Bonus track)
- Warrel Dane: vocals.
- Jim Sheppard: bass.
- Jeff Loomis: guitar and rapture.
- Pat O'Brien: guitar.
- Van Williams: drums.