Label : Darknagar Records

Review by Vard Aman

NeverDie formed in 2005 in Oktyabrsky, Republic of Bashkortostan in Russia. You’d better look that up on Wikipedia – Oktyabrsky that is, you should already know where Russia is by now: it’s the place that Sarah Palin can see from her house. Or perhaps I should rather say “allegedly see” – we are talking about Sarah Palin here. It is possible that she has simply named her vegetable garden “Russia” – and that might be another reason she’s so determined to shoot all the wolves in the area: perhaps “they might not have lost the vegetarian instincts that they picked up on Noah’s Ark yet”. Anyway, I digress; on with the review. “The Source of Black Water” is NeverDie’s second full length album (the first being “Forgotten World” in 2008). There are things that I like about this album, things that I don’t and things that I think are OK. I’ve actually made one of those brainstorming mind map things that I used to make in high school, complete with a drawing of mind mapping superhero, Captain Brainstorm: with a flowing cape; a tight-fitting top with the letters “BS” written on it; and an enormous har… *ahem*… REVIEW!!! Let’s start off with the “OK” category: after an impressive intro and an equally impressive opening of the first song, we get our first taste of the vocalist, Regina. Regina uses two different vocal styles: an operatic style (more on that later) and growls. She is a good growler, but not great; she certainly does not have the growling capacity of singers like Angela Gossow, Elvira Alchemida or Masha Scream. When you hear Angela for the first time, you take another look at the CD booklet: maybe it was a misprint, maybe it was meant to be “Angelo”. When you hear Elvira for the first time you start backing away from the speakers expecting a demon to emerge from their depths to rip your heart out with steel-like claws. When you hear Masha for the first time you suddenly realize that the shield you brought to this particular battle isn’t going to be nearly strong enough. But when you hear Regina for the first time, all you think is “Ahh, she’s growling. Cool!”. She is no Cadaveria either.

OK, she’s a young Cadaveria – I do get the impression that growling is a fairly recently acquired talent for Regina and that she will get much better at it. Still, her growling is decent; and is most certainly the more listenable of her two vocal styles on this album. The production is quite good, although the distorted guitars are a little muddy in places. They sound as if they’ve been downtuned quite a lot which is not an uncommon practice by bands playing this kind of music. Now for “what I don’t like”: What kills NeverDie for me (pun intended) are Regina’s operatic vocals on this album. She is certainly not a bad operatic singer technically and she hits all the notes perfectly, but it is the way that she uses her voice that is the problem. There is no feeling or emotion in her voice at all, she just sings. The vocal melodies are all over the place, in some places it even sounds as if she is just singing random notes over a particular part of the song. The result is that her operatic vocals do not compliment the music at all, but instead clashes and fights with it. There seems to be such a conscious effort, even desperation to write vocal melodies that are different to the rest of the music (or maybe just to show off) that considerations as to what would best suit the music are an afterthought at best. “Because I can” beats “because I should”; and the result is that both the music and the vocals suffer. NeverDie suffers. Occasionally she does come good: for example in certain parts between 2:00 and 2:30 in “Red Marble”, then it sounds great; but it doesn’t last, Regina soon returns to her wailing battle with the music again. Sorry, but no! And finally “what I do like”: Instrumentally, the band is great. They conjure up some powerful riffs, driving rhythms and intricate melodies; and when they slow it down they sound adequately doomy. The songwriting is good and well thought out, although it does lack a bit of variation from song to song despite the tempo changes. NeverDie has their sound, and although it is molded around a tried-and-tested formula, it is still something that they can honestly enough call their own. In conclusion: I’ve seen NeverDie described as “Gothic Doom Metal”, and “Extreme Gothic Metal”, but on “The Source of Black Water” they are neither. I would describe them as Melodic Death elements of Thrash and Doom Metal. I fail to find any Gothic influences anywhere. I cannot really pick any highlights off the album, I’d have to choose the songs where the operatic vocals annoy me the least or the instrumentation is good enough to make up for it: if pressed, I’d choose “Water Shine” as my favourite. After listening to “The Source of Black Water” I was interested to hear some material off their previous album “Forgotten World”, and discovered 4 tracks off that album available for download from their official website.

There are no growls on these 4 tracks, the sound is clearer (although the drum sound is not as good) and they are more Doom orientated. The vocals are better; some of the problems are still present (or “starting to develop” I should rather say) but much less so, and I found all 4 of these songs better than anything from “The Source of Black Water”. I do not know what the rest of “Forgotten World” sounds like, but based on the strength of the 4 songs available from their website, NeverDie seem to have taken a step backwards. If Regina can rein herself in and cut out her needless vocal antics and if she can vary her vocal styles so that they better suit the music she is singing over, and if she can learn to sing with a bit of feeling and emotion, NeverDie would be much better (and “The Source of Black Water” would have been a much better album). Her growls are fine; they just need a little more time to develop into something that could be described as awesome… like a hungry leopard that does not approve of the fence between itself and that delicious McDonalds burger you keep bouncing on the ground in front of it. So that’s that; the thingymajigs on my mind map are now all crossed out; and all that remains is the drawing of mind mapping superhero, Captain Brainstorm: with his flowing cape; his tight-fitting top; and his enormous hard hat.

Rating – 65/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Intro
  2. Ejected from the Depths
  3. Wonderful Night Ahead…
  4. Inner Sense
  5. Red Marble
  6. Sunstroke
  7. At the bottom
  8. Water Shine
  9. Little Songbird
  10. Alone in the Dark

 

Line Up

  • Regina Muhamadeeva – Vocals
  • Damir Muhamadeev – Guitars
  • Elvira Khairullina – Keyboards
  • Ramil Haibullin – Bass
  • Alexandr Kuzmin – Drums

 

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