Theocracy Warrel Dane - Praises to the War Machine (Century Media) 2008

1. When We Pray (3:38)
2. Messenger (3:59)
3. Obey (3:14)
4. Lucretia My Reflection (4:38)
5. Let You Down (3:54)
6. August (3:48)
7. Your Chosen Misery (4:10)
8. The Day The Rats Went To War (3:37)
9. Brother (3:24)
10. Patterns (4:01)
11. This Old Man (3:43)
12. Equilibrium (3:53)

I didn't know what to think of "Praises to the War Machine" when I first heard it. Dane is, of course, the voice behind Sanctuary and Nevermore. Both bands are outstanding and had basically blown me away with their different CD releases. With Warrel's first solo album, I wasn't immediately blown away. The songs are a whole are much more straight forward heavy metal than either of his bands. The overall feel is far less complex and flashy. Sanctuary had those insane high vocals whereas Nevermore had the more progressive songwriting and killer soloing of Jeff Loomis. That is not to say that "Praises" is bad. Far from it. It took me several spins to really begin to appreciate the album. Simplicity is not neccessarily a bad thing, and in fact works in Warrel's favor here. The choruses stick in the head like glue. The overall emotion of the album is melancholy and dark, as the album title suggests. The album actually has a doomy, heavy feel to it. "Brother" is a prefect example of this heavy, emotional feel that overall album has. The song gave me chills the first time I really paid close attention to it. Guitarist Peter Wicher (ex-Soilwork) is the backbone behind the music here. He sticks to pretty simplistic riffs, though there are some hints of his former band here and there. Nevermore guitar shredder Jeff Loomis and former Testament guitarist James Murphy are brought in to add a bit of spice to a couple songs. Both add their signature soling styles to one song each. The album features two cover songs, "Lucretia My Reflection", a Sisters of Mercy cover and "Patterns", a Simon & Garfunkel cover. Being completely unfamiliar with the originals I can't compare the covers. However, whereas many times cover songs tend to stick out like sore thumbs on albums, these two songs blend right in with the originals.

Of course the reason for doing a solo album is to step outside of what your band is doing. That is exactly the case with Warrel's first solo album. Nevermore/Sanctuary fans know that Warrel has a killer voice. Since that is what is on display here, "Praises to the War Machine" works. From his deep baritone crooning to the melodic singing Warrel sounds great, though he doesn't really unleash any of those high piercing screams that made Sanctuary so special. Still, "Praises to the War Machine" has some good songs, especially the more moody, mellower tunes. I actually enjoyed hearing Dane explore some different musical styles.

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