On December 13th, 2017, the world was saddened with the loss of yet another tremendously gifted musician; Nevermore/Sanctuary frontman, Warrel Dane. Dane had been residing in Sao Paulo, Brazil, laying down the groundwork for his upcoming sophomore solo release, “Shadow Work.” However, Dane went to sleep one night, never to awaken. This left fans wondering if the tracks from these recording sessions would ever come to see the light of day. Thankfully, almost a year later, this posthumous release is finally being released.
Ethereal Blessing kicks things off on a very interesting note, quite literally. With heavy middle eastern vibes, and Danes’ haunting vocals, this intro really sets the tone for a very somber, yet melodic, album.
Madame Satan, like much of this album, gives off some strong Nevermore vibes. Probably the most impressive aspect of this song, and something I wish would have been utilized more often on the album, is Danes’ use of Death Metal-esque vocals. This is a different side of Dane that I feel doesn’t get near enough attention as it should, given his impressive vocal range. Between the technical riffing, and constant sweep picking, this track definitely brings back fond memories of Nevermore in their heyday.
Disconnection System slows things down a bit with a more ominous, slow paced riff, that quickly gives way into a fast, almost Speed Metal type of riff, that was completely unexpected. The vocals here, are incredibly dark, yet soft. While not venturing into Death Metal territory like we heard previously, they are still unnaturally heavy for Dane. Another interesting aspect of this song, is the breakdown. Something one would not expect to hear on an album full of such technical riffing. However, the breakdown is done as only one would expect from the caliber of musicians. It’s the kind of breakdown that would make any Deathcore band green with envy, wishing they could have come up with something that came even close to it. The track ends on a rather interesting note; with an outro that sounds like it was ripped straight from a horror film. It seems out of place, yet also perfectly continuing the dark mood of the album.
Going into As Fast As The Others, the album shifts gears a bit. It starts off very Power Metal-like, before scaling things back a bit, and taking a more simplistic approach to the music, as opposed to the technicality of the previous tracks. Danes’ vocals continue to be strong, and high in the mix, but seem to lack the high-range he’s been known to use since returning to Sanctuary, instead opting for the more middle and lower range that he used in Nevermore.
Next we have the title track, Shadow Work. This title seems very appropriate when listening to the vocals. They’re dark, heavy, almost spoken word; but in a melodic, almost sing-song way. Aside from the vocals, this track features some very intricate lead work throughout, that is sure to capture the listeners attention.
Mother Is The Word Of God closes out the 8 track album, and at 9:32, it is by far the longest song on the album. This track continues to change things up a bit; starting off with some welcoming strings, that bring on an eerie sense of dread as a slow, plodding riff comes in overtop. The first actual verse of the song is interesting, in that it’s an acoustic passage, something I wish we would have heard more of on the album. The guitars bring back that technical riffing we’ve been getting almost from the start of the album, and continues for the rest of the track. The lead work, while still great, really just seems to be mimicking what it’s been doing for the entire album, without any real, significant changes. The song comes to close with the same “chorus” we heard at the beginning, while bringing back the somber strings, and closing out the album on a eerie, dark note.
Warrel Dane has left behind such a wonderful legacy of world-class albums, and “Shadow Work” sits right up there with Nevermore’s “This Godless Endeavor” and Sanctuary’s “Into The Mirror Black.”
“Shadow Work” is available as Limited Edition Mediabook with 44-page booklet, Gatefold LP with CD & 12-page LP-sized booklet, and on all digital platforms; released on October 26th, 2018.