No surprises.

After over ten years of providing vocals for Nevermore, Warrel Dane strikes out on his own with “Praises To The War Machine” his first solo effort. The vocalist’s distinctive style is all over this album, his voice providing the driving force for the melodic metal tunes; he uses his full range, injecting emotion and personality into what could probably have otherwise been a lifeless project.

For the most part the album covers familiar ground; the sound is not a million miles away from Nevermore, which is a bit surprising, considering he’s enlisted the skills of Peter Wichers (ex-Soilwork) for the guitar and bass and Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork) on drums and it is actually on the whole a much softer and more melodic record than you might expect, never really taking off into heavy riffage for lengthy periods. It does provide plenty of epic, soaring moments though that make up for any shortfall in the chugga department, the excellent track ‘Brother’ really delivers on this front with an emotionally charged crescendo of guitars and vocals that easily sucks you in and plays on the heart strings.

That’s not to say that the record is totally lacking in riffs though; ‘Patterns’ has a nice line in chunky guitars; ‘Obey’ opens on a dark, deep note with Dane’s vocals in full on croon mode and title track ‘Praises To The War Machine’ is hook laden and heavy and only lets up to launch into a solo or two. While the album is enjoyable and very listenable the only slightly disappointing thing about it is that it covers such familiar metal ground, not different enough from much of the other operatic-edged metal that’s already out there to really be able to get hugely excited about it; the riffs and chords are pretty standard and while the solos are nicely done they don’t really stand out as particularly special. It is good to hear Dane’s voice outside Nevermore though and lyrically he seems less political here, instead he appears to be using this project to vent some more personal issues.