Prog-metal can be groove-deficient and instrumentally excessive, but Nevermore creates rhythm-driven, hardcore-style breakdowns and keeps most tracks in the five-minute range. Guitar wizard Jeff Loomis efficiently shreds spiraling melodies behind singer Warrel Dane's voice or in tandem with new axeman Steve Smyth, instead of waiting for a designated solo segment. All the tightly tangled playing makes Loomis' isolated outbursts even more riveting. When he breaks out of a dual-guitar march for a ringing three-second squeal, it's like witnessing a pass-first point guard break free for a spectacular dunk.
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