Warrel Dane – Shadow Work (Album Review)

When tragedy strikes, sometimes it seems like all hope is lost. Especially the case when a thriving musician, Warrel Dane, suddenly passed away in the midst of creating his next masterpiece back in December of 2017, it seemed as if the recordings may never see the light of day. Yet, sometimes carrying on the cherished work of a figure like Dane is the perfect decision to help heal the open wound. Fortunately, Century Media agrees and have decided to release Dane’s Shadow Work posthumous solo album on Friday, October 26th.

Best known for his work in the Heavy Metal bands Sanctuary and Nevermore, from beyond the grave, Dane’s Shadow Work is his second solo effort, following up 2008’s Praises To The War Machine. Going out to São Paulo, Brazil, Dane was deep trenches of recording Shadow Work when he suffered a sudden heart attack, thus bringing the work to a grinding halt. Rather than let all the hard work and talent fade away into oblivion, his band decided they could and would finish the album with what they had. The results are an eight track full body of work reeking of inspiring talent and mournful celebration.

Starting off as Warrel Dane’s local touring musicians, the all Brazilian crew consisting of Johnny Moraes on guitar, Thiago Oliveira also on guitar, Fabio Carito on bass, as well as Marcus Dotta on drums took on the responsibility of fleshing out Shadow Work from Dane’s voice tracked during pre-production, demo and recording sessions. A daunting job, considering the circumstances, they definitely did a phenomenal job of getting all the right elements out on the table to pay tribute to Dane. 

Starting off the album, “Ethereal Blessing” is short, sweet, and filled with warmth, as well as prosper. Then on a heavier and more progressive note, “Madame Satan” serves as the requested inspiration for the beautifully sinister album artwork created by Travis Smith. There is much to soak in with this tune, and it has the most dynamic changes from mischievous to pure, making it a top contender for an album favorite. A very close runner, “Disconnection System” is a Power Prog delight and an intricate masterpiece at that.

Moving on, the title-track serves well midway through and its straight up heaviness dominates in a positive way. From the mostly baritone vocals to the creeping in of the higher octave range Dane is known for on earlier Sanctuary albums, there is really nothing left unsatisfying. Pushing on with the heavy Thrashcore with Progressive overlays and that amazing power, speedy drumming, “The Hanging Garden” is one of a kind and is an overwhelming epic follow through.

Finalizing and heavily climaxing the eight song album comes “Rain” and “Mother Is The Word For God.” The first, baring such a simple over used title, it still manages to take on an individual interpretation that encompasses freeing moments clouded with sorrow. The latter is a wildly wondrous track of powerfully fast, progressively flowing riffs following some unique vocal moments developing into over nine minutes of full auditory pleasure.

For fans struck hard by the passing of Warrel Dane, Shadow Work is nothing to fear. Instead, it serves as a warm, comforting light at the end of a dark tunnel that grows stronger and brighter with each song. In the grand scheme of life for the Seattle born Warrel Dane, and his musical contributions over many years, this final solo work is a beautiful culmination. In truth, Dane was one of the great vocalists on the scene of his day with his unique genre mix that dominated Progressive Power Metal. For this and countless other valiant efforts, such as juggling a few large projects at once, CrypticRock gives Warrel Dane’s swansong 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Shadow Work:

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  • Lisa, great review! I really loved Shadow Work. Warrel’s voice is amazing and his band did an amazing job. I can’t help but notice that you left off his most personal song on the album “As fast as the others”. Regardless, I enjoyed your take on Shadow Work and the much deserved score of 5 out of 5 that you gave it.

  • Nice review, Lisa! I had heard that he only had lyrics written and not recorded, just a few demoed. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it was coming out, and my fiance gave it to me for Xmas. RIP the Voyager.

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