Thursday, March 31, 2016

Neverworld (review by The Man of Much Metal)

review by The Man of Much Metal
Artist: Neverworld
Album Title: Dreamsnatcher
Label: Dream Demon Recordings
Date of Release: 4 March 2016
It is fair to say that the name Neverworld has been on my radar for some time but I’d never taken the plunge for one reason or another until now, upon the release of their second album, ‘Dreamsnatcher’. Over the past year or so, I have seen a number of snippets of music over social media and it has been these little tasters that convinced me that I had to listen to Neverworld this time around. And overall, I’m really glad I did.
But before I go on, let’s get the slight niggle out of the way first and it has to do with the production. It isn’t bad, far from it. Each instrument can be heard within the mix at most times. It’s just not to my personal taste and I can’t help but think that it could have been a little stronger, particularly in the guitar department. As it is, some of the six-string work is rendered a little fuzzy and buzzy, reminiscent of the 70s and 80s at times. This may be entirely deliberate but from my own subjective point of view, I would have liked a slightly different production approach overall.
However, let’s move onto the positive stuff and, on that score, there’s plenty to talk about.
Imagine, if you will, a mash-up of classic NWOBHM, Bay Area thrash metal and the melodic progressive stylings of the likes of the aforementioned Vanishing Point. This description sounds good to me and happily, the reality is equally as palatable. In fact, the more I listen, the more I’m convinced that ‘Dreamsnatcher’ is very much the distilled sound of five guys with a love of heavy metal getting together, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and giving it 100%, leaving nothing behind except a trail of blood, sweat and the smell of burning denim and leather.
Neverworld 2016 is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Ben Colton, guitarist Jack Foster, drummer Mike Vaughan, keyboardist Daniel Potter and bassist Gary Payne. And ‘Dreamsnatcher’ contains everything that you’d expect from a ‘proper’ heavy metal album. You want heavy riffs? You’ve got them. You want an uncompromising and powerful rhythm section? You’ve got it. You want up-tempo music that you can bang our head and sing along to? You’ve got it. And you want dual guitar harmonies and blazing lead guitar solos? Yup, you’ve got them too and you’ve got them in spades. As someone who has a huge weakness for such frivolities, it’s a joy to hear.
And if all that wasn’t enough, you have the lead vocals of Ben Colton. When he nails it, the guy sounds great and I’m frequently reminded of the mighty Silvio Massaro of Vanishing Point, such is Colton’s rich timbre and powerful, passionate delivery. Very occasionally, when he is required to hit the higher end of his register, it sounds a bit of a struggle but otherwise, Colton is really impressive behind the mic.
It all adds up to an album that’s both serious rocking and a hell of a lot of fun. Every time I listen, I begin to smile, my head starts to nod and invariably, I break out the air guitar regardless of whether I’m behind closed doors or taking the dog out for a walk. The exuberance of Neverworld is infectious and I can’t help getting swept up in it.
Aside from the obvious vocals and lead guitar frivolities, the most ear-catching aspect of Neverworld is the keyboards of Daniel Potter. ‘Dreamsnatcher’ is awash with keys, both to enhance and create melodic lead lines but also to add depth, atmosphere and to soften the edges of an in-your-face metal assault. Some listeners bemoan and deride albums that utilise keyboards and synths but in my opinion, they are a very welcome addition to the overall Neverworld sound.
For once, I will refrain from picking out any particular songs for further scrutiny because the entire record is remarkably consistent. There’s something to like within each of the ten compositions, be it an uncompromising double pedal drum beat, a melodic and soulful lead guitar solo or a passionate vocal line.
Overall, and most importantly, Neverworld remind us all of what heavy metal is all about. At a time when we seem fixated on the next big subgenre or the ‘scene’, here is a band that have metaphorically stuck two fingers up and said, ‘we just want to rock’. And for that, Neverworld should be applauded.
The Score Of Much Metal: 8.0
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