Dec 232017


(Andy Synn wrote this installment of his occasional series about things that come in fives.)

As you’ll no doubt be aware, a little over a week ago saw the sudden and untimely demise of Sanctuary/ex-Nevermore vocalist Warrel Dane.

And while this is, assuredly, a heavy blow indeed for his friends and loved ones, it’s also a loss for the Metal scene as a whole, since I would contend that Dane was, without doubt, one of the most unique and distinctive singers (not to mention lyricists) of the past twenty years.

His death also means that the long hoped for Nevermore reunion will never happen and, even though there was some lingering bad blood between them, I’m sure that his ex-bandmates (Loomis, Sheppard, and Williams) must still be reeling from the shock of his passing.

So, having given things a little bit of time to settle (I didn’t want us to be accused of “cashing in” on his death, or anything like that) I’d like to present you with five of my favourite Nevermore songs, as a minor tribute to Warrel Dane and his remarkable voice.




While there were multiple candidates from this album which I could have chosen (in fact there are multiple candidates from all their albums, so that shouldn’t be surprising), this dark pseudo-ballad of moody gothic melodies, rippling acoustic trills, and colossal, doom-laden riffs takes the cake for me, as you can hear every band member pouring every ounce of soul and passion into their performance (though I must admit, it’s Dane’s vocals, particularly as the song builds towards its climax, that really resonate with me).







The choice here ultimately came down to “The River Dragon…” or the album’s title-track, both of which are an absolute masterclass in heavy metallic darkness, but in the end the chunky, harmonic-flecked riffs and bleak, despair-fuelled vocal melodies of this one won the day.

It’s not all about Loomis and Dane however (even though the two of them usually get most of the credit and attention), as bassist Jim Sheppard plays an understated, but vital, supporting role in gluing the song together, while Van Williams demonstrates here why he is – to my mind at least – one of the most underappreciated drummers in Metal, with his punishingly heavy, yet cleverly creative, performance behind the kit.







I know a lot of people who haven’t really given Enemies of Reality much of a chance due to the mediocre mix/master it originally received (which was itself due to ongoing wrangling between the band and their label about their contract), but I definitely urge you all to check out the remastered version if you can. It gives the songs the punch and power and depth they deserve, and songs like “Enemies of Reality”, “I, Voyager”, and “Create the Infinite” are easily amongst the hardest, heaviest things the band have ever produced.

But it’s final track “Seed Awakening” that really ups the ante, with Van Williams’ flying feet propelling a sequence of brutally heavy riffs – laced with veins of the band’s signature proggy melody – through four and a half minutes of bruising, brooding, bombastic Heavy fucking Metal at its finest.







I think you could reasonably argue that This Godless Endeavour is one of the best albums of the new millennium, with every member of the band putting in an absolutely career-defining performance on every single track (in fact re-listening to the album for this column has made me appreciate once again what a fantastic performance Van Williams puts in behind the kit – as much as Loomis gets praised for his amazing riffage, Williams is right there keeping up with him throughout).

Of course this made choosing a single song from the record an extremely difficult task, and I went back and forth on my selection a few times – I was very close indeed to going with “Born”, which remains one of the best openers to any album ever in my opinion – but the electric fretwork and absolutely soaring vocals of “My Acid Words” (that build-up in the pre-chorus, leading into the song’s frankly massive chorus refrain, is truly a thing of beauty) just wouldn’t be denied in the end.

And, oh god, that point in the second half where the band bring the heavy, right before Loomis unleashes yet another utterly blistering solo, is just sublime.







As much as the band’s 2010 swansong was something of a disappointment overall, that doesn’t mean it was a complete write-off, and a handful of its tracks still stack up really well against the rest of the band’s discography.

Chief among them is the unexpectedly dark and punishing “She Comes In Colors”, which initially tricks you into thinking the band have gone the ballad route again, before unleashing a barrage of weaponised riffage and artillery-strength percussion, topped off by one of Dane’s most eloquent and emotive vocal performances.

It’s well worth checking out even if you’d (quite understandably) written off The Obsidian Conspiracy until now.




  1. This was one of the most painful losses for me in the past 20 years. I briefly met Warrel before a show in San Francisco and he was the most genuine guy. The amount of talent from the band as a whole will forever make their lack of breakthrough and ultimate demise a tragedy. R.I.P Warrel, you are and will be missed.

    • I managed to see Nevermore twice in my lifetime, and still had hope that they would eventually bury the hatchet and give us at least one more album. Warrel’s sudden death was certainly a blow.

  2. “She Comes In Colors…” FUUUUUCK!

    • It is an ABSOLUTE tune, despite the lesser quality of the album overall.

      • It is lesser quality than the others, but I still have a place in my heart for it. Maybe it is because I was way late to the Nevermore party. I actually saw “The Obsidian Conspiracy” in the used section of my favorite record store at the time not long after it got released. It was good enough to have me go back and buy everything else, though.

  3. Great tribute…I was curious if you were going to write anything about this tragic event. Nevermore is my favorite band of all time, and with so many good songs it’s hard to choose 5. I’d have to say in no order: born, we disintegrate, beyond within, next in line, the heart collector

    • All great songs. Too many great songs to choose from in fact. Whittling it down to 5 was difficult, so I just went with my gut feeling in the end, and tried not to overthink it.

  4. Matricide is the one that gets me in the feels. Being from Seattle I got to see early Sanctuary, Nevermore, Warrel solo and reformed Sanctuary. Got to meet him too and he was a down to earth dude. RIP Wally!

  5. I love The Heart Collector !! And Believe In Nothing !!

  6. I love, “The Heart Collector” and Believe in Nothing. Going to miss his talent.

  7. Honestly, any song off of “Dead Heart…” or “This Godless Endeavor” could be on this list. Both albums are perfection.

    • I could easily have just chosen five songs from “Dead Heart…”, “Enemies…”, or “…Godless…” in all honesty.

  8. Great tribute it what about the first too albums. The self titled “nevermore” and more importantly “THE POLITICS OF ecstasy”. The seven tongues of god is one of the best songs. And “next in line “. “This sacrament”. Those are amazing classic songs.

    • “What about the first two albums?”

      Well, since I limited the list to five choices, and they have more than five albums… inevitably I wasn’t going to be able to include something from every single one. Also, this is my own personal list, and these are five of my personal favourite songs, none of which come from the first two albums. So there’s your answer.

    Metal fans nevermore fans sanctuary fans fans of Warell Dane!!
    I have idolized him since I was a kid the first YouTube video is me at 17 idolizing Warrel Dane trying to copycat him the second video is me in 2021 also still singing still showing my influence and my admiration for him. This March 7 his birthday I am going to release a cover song of some thing he has done. May he rest in peace may you guys enjoy the videos I’ve submitted

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