I’d just swapped out the Sanctuary discography I had in my car for a month with Nevermore, so all I’ve been hearing of late is Warrel’s distinct, but very dynamic vocals. Thankfully, it’s not a voice I’m likely to get bored of listening to. Warrel teamed up with Brazilian musicians Johnny Moraes (guitar), Thiago Oliveira (guitar), Fabio Carito (bass) and Marcus Dotta (drums) in 2014 as his touring band and they planned to record the new studio album together at Orra Meu Studio, São Paulo toward the end of 2017. Unfortunately, Warrel never completed the recording, but the decision was made to release ‘Shadow Work’ using vocals from various studio and pre-production sessions. And this is what we have here.

Album opener “Ethereal Blessing” is exactly that, a short but melodic track with haunting chant like vocals over a tribal rhythm and moody strings.

Next up is “Madame Satan” with its excellent choppy rhythm, but more importantly a myriad of different vocal deliveries to go with the various riffs and tempos the song progresses through.

Intricate drum patterns complement the rapid changes in guitar riffs during “Disconnection System”, where they cycle through melodies, leads, staccato sustains and false harmonics to add weight to the nearly whispered vocals.

Like on ‘Praises to the War Machine’ there are some autobiographical lyrics on ‘Shadow Work’ such “As Fast as the Others” with its recounting of a friend being bullied when they were at school.

While being one of the faster tracks on the album, “Shadow Work” still manages to have an exquisitely sung melancholy chorus that seriously tugs on the heartstrings.

I really love the rendition of The Cure’s “The Hanging Garden” with its sweeping guitars, but more importantly the constant drum roll on steroids, and replacing Robert Smith’s questioning whine with a far more sombre, querying tone.

A gentle pitter-patter opens “Rain” before sweetly sung but highly emotive vocals are underpinned by a morose guitar melody and rather nostalgic lead.

Similarly, “Mother Is the Word for God” is also rather highly charged with emotions where the acoustic then distorted guitars perfectly match the deep clean then gruff vocals before the picking up of the pace aids in adding a harried feel to the song, as if he were running out of time. Definitely a beautiful way to end the album.

Truly sad there shall never be more new songs to sing to. Nevertheless, I am definitely going to be looking out for the 12″ for all the extra Travis Smith artwork specially created for the Gatefold LP with its 12-page booklet.

(8/10 Marco Gaminara)