REVIEW: WARREL DANE – “Shadow Work”
The untimely and heart-rending passing away of Warrel Dane sent shockwaves of grief all across the metal world. It’s always tragic when some of our favourite musicians move on to the great beyond, especially ones as talented as Warrel. And while mourning his loss is a natural reaction, we must never forget to celebrate the incredible legacy he left behind so that his name lives on through the ages.
Warrel was certainly one of the most passionate singers in metal, not to mention one of the most unique. Whether with Sanctuary, his solo material or his utterly ground breaking and path defining records with Nevermore, Warrel always had a knack for tugging at the heart strings or spitting vicious barbs of truth to get people to ‘wake up’ and free themselves from the shackles of the system that binds them.
Shadow Work is Warrel’s swansong, which was initially meant to be 80 minutes long, but was whittled down to 40 minutes due to his unfortunate passing during the recording. Anyone who has ever followed Warrel Dane’s career knows that just about everything he’s put his name to has been absolute quality, and Shadow Work is no different.
In fact, Shadow Work is an almost perfect amalgamation of Praises To The War Machine and This Godless Endeavour. Unforgiving and emotional at the same time, as each track nears its end you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the void his death has left in its wake.
But does the record stand up to Warrel’s strongest work? Well, not quite, but it does come pretty damn close every now and then. Not only is it absolutely solid from start to finish, there are no discernible flaws to be found. Some of the guitar work and songwriting on display, at times, even rivals Nevermore at the height of their powers. And, of course, it’s all wrapped up in a vocal performance that ebbs and flows with a mastery that few singers can match.
In essence, Shadow Work encapsulates everything Warrel Dane was all about and showcases his trademark ‘machinistic melancholy’ (as I like to call it) in all its glory. Tracks like Disconnection System, Madame Satan and The Hanging Garden wouldn’t be one bit out of place on This Godless Endeavour or even Enemies Of Reality for that matter, while the epic and haunting closer, Mother Is The Word For God, is probably a fitting coda to the legacy of a true original, matching the title track of This Godless Endeavour pound for pound and riff for riff.
While Warrel’s lyrics have always had more than a touch of ‘doom and gloom’ about them, some of the lyrics on Shadow Work seem almost prophetic in nature. In light of his demise, tell me if the words on Ethereal Blessing don’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
In closing, and as banal as it may sound, Warrel may be gone but he lives on forever through his music. We should count ourselves fortunate that he has left us with an incredibly fine record with which to remember him by. Rest easy Warrel. We’ll meet you in the dream time real soon!