When Warrel Dane passed away suddenly on 13 December 2017, the whole metal community worldwide was shocked. Every time at least some of my favorite musicians pass away, a little piece inside of me dies as well. Being one of the most unique and diverse singers in the metal scene, Warrel Dane offered us bands like Sanctuary and Nevermore. Before his passing, Warrel Dane was working on another solo album, which Century Media has now released. “Shadow Work” was initially meant to be 80 minutes long but was decreased considerately in time, because of the recordings. Ephemeral in its nature, the album consists now of 8 tracks, lasting around 40 minutes altogether.
Writing this review was a challenge. It felt awkward. Nevermore means quite a deal to me and I have been a fan since I was a teenager. I wasn’t aware at all this release was going to happen, but somehow felt very privileged that we still get a final goodbye to Warrel Dane.
When I listened to the album, I didn’t know what to feel. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions only wondering how you can review something that you can summarize in one word – that one word being beautiful. In fact, this seems to be the most difficult thing that I have ever written in my life.
Anyone who is familiar with the material of Nevermore or Dane’s debut solo album, “Praises To The War Machine” will hear plenty of those influences on “Shadow Work” from time to time. It is eerie how the musicians working together with Warrel Dane have managed to produce an album that echoes of his previous works and also homages him for the unique singer he was and captures his voice so beautifully blended as if we were supposed to remind it the way it is presented now.
The minute-long intro “Ethereal Blessing” blends some sort of an Oriental vibe together with Danes’ haunting vocals. The intro sets immediately the tone for a very melancholic and grim album. The intro smoothly transitions into “Madame Satan”, which has a very strong Nevermore vibe to it. Interestingly enough, we also hear another side of Dane, where he even uses harsher vocals. Originally there were supposed to be blast beats and guttural vocals. Even so, “Madame Satan” definitely brings back some good memories from back with Nevermore.
“Disconnection System” has a slower pace, but certainly is not less heavy than “Madame Satan”. In fact, these two tracks are maybe of the heaviest songs I have heard before. “As Fast As The Others” is a bit different from the earlier two tracks. Anthematic. The song starts off almost like a power metal song, it’s perhaps less complex of structure than the others two songs, but a damn right catchy song. It’s a track that is blessed with beautiful melodies.
“Shadow Work”, the title track, continues down the same line as the first two tracks of the album. Then follows, perhaps one of my favorite songs on the album “The Hanging Garden”. Versatility doesn’t lack on this album, the beautiful melodic ballad “Rain” will certainly make you well up if that isn’t what you have been doing so far – truthfully, the lyrics are so on point in all the songs that I have been crying my eyes out throughout the whole ride.
“Mother Is The Word For God” is the closing track on the album and with its 9:32 also the longest one of the album. It’s the most complex song on the album, most expressive and a lyrical highlight. It’s very threatening, dramatic and explosive at times and closes down a perfect album on a perfect note.
Even though this album is not entirely what Dane and the band had envisioned, it is great to have a final piece of Warrel Dane released upon the world. Somehow, his darkest moments seem even darker than before. Most of the lyrics on the album, almost seem prophetic in their nature. The whole album for that matter gave me goosebumps as a whole from the start until the end.
Musically the albums offers heavy and technical metal tracks such as “Madame Satan” and “Disconnection System”, the anthemic “As Fast As The Others” and the emotional ballad “Rain”. “Mother Is The Word For God” reveals extremely personal lyrics. There’s a little bit for everyone on this album because of its versatility.
Warrel Dane may have passed away, but he left us his legacy through his music, the last one being “Shadow Work”. A record that any fan of his work has to hear. It may not be perfect, it may not be finished, but it’s the perfect way to celebrate a talented musician such as Warrel Dane. In fact, I couldn’t think of a better way to do that. So Warrel, thank you for “Shadow Work”. After all, “Shadow Work” contains a lot of emotional intensity and quality, even though it might not be perfect.
1. Ethereal Blessing
2. Madame Satan
3. Disconnection System
4. As Fast As The Others
5. Shadow Work
6. The Hanging Garden
8. Mother Is The Word For God
Warrel Dane – Vocals