And nothing changes when we pray…
Warrel Dane is the lead singer of the American power metal band Sanctuary. He is also known as the former lead singer of currently inactive progressive metal band Nevermore. He is a natural baritone, though he was known for his high-pitched vocals with Serpent’s Knight and on the first two Sanctuary albums. Later in his career, Dane became more notable for his distinctively deep, dramatic voice.
Dane was trained for five years as an opera singer and utilizes a very broad vocal range, spanning from notes as low as the G♯ below low C, or G♯1, to notes as high as the B♭ below soprano C, or B♭5. While his highhead voice style vocals were much more prominent in the older Sanctuary albums, there were instances where he utilizes it in Nevermore as well. Sanctuary’s 2014 comeback album The Year the Sun Died includes these higher passages on three songs.
He cites Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Jefferson Airplane, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, The Doors as his musical influences and Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson as his main vocal inspirations.
Dane, along with bassist Jim Sheppard, is a certified chef and formerly owned a restaurant in Seattle. As reflected in his songwriting, Warrel is critical of religion and government and has expressed mixed feelings toward the advancement of technology.
Dane’s first ever solo record, Praises to the War Machine was released May 13, 2008 on Century Media Records. He is working on a second.
Past tense, future tense!
They released a demo in 1986, which was well received, and that led them to sign with Epic Records in 1987. They released their debut album, Refuge Denied, in the same year. It was produced by Dave Mustaine, frontman of thrash metal band Megadeth. Thus followed a tour alongside Megadeth and the German band Warlock.
After the tour, they entered the studio to record their second studio album, Into the Mirror Black. It was released in Europe in 1989, while the US version came out the following year. A video clip for the song “Future Tense” was made and received some airplay on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. During the tour (with the bands Fates Warning, Forbidden and Death Angel), the guitarist Sean Blosl left the band and was replaced by Jeff Loomis.
Shortly after, pressure from Epic Records to fit in with the flourishing Seattle grunge scene caused disagreements between band members regarding the band’s musical direction. In 1992, Sanctuary officially disbanded.
Epic Records was to release a full-length live recording from this final tour, but only a limited number of copies of a promotional live EP ever saw the light of day. It was named Into The Mirror Live.
Refuge Denied and IntoThe Mirror Black were re-released as a double CD set by IronBird Records on February 22, 2010.
There´s no stronger drug than reality…
Nevermore started in the beginning of the 1990s, when the band Sanctuary was pressured by its recording label to change its musical style, switching from heavy metal to grunge, which was obtaining mainstream success at the time due to bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam (both, incidentally, also from Seattle). Two members of the band – vocalist Warrel Dane and bassist Jim Sheppard — did not agree with the change, and thus proceeded to create a project of their own: Nevermore.
By the end of 1994, the band assumed a stable lineup, which saw the additions of drummer Van Williams and former Sanctuary touring guitarist Jeff Loomis. In 1995 Nevermore released its debut album through Century Media Records. This album received much attention and specialized review, as its release was followed by a European tour with Blind Guardian and a North American tour with Death.
Second guitarist Pat O’Brien joined the band prior to the release of the EP In Memory and also took part in the recording of the subsequent album The Politics of Ecstasy, both from 1996. O’Brien left Nevermore to play inCannibal Corpse and Curran Murphy from Shatter Messiah was enlisted as a touring guitarist for the band until Tim Calvert (who played for the band Forbidden) was able to join the band.
Three years without releases followed, but in 1999, the album Dreaming Neon Black was released. The album’s lyrics, based partly on the events Warrell Dane underwent after the disappearance of his longtime girlfriend, narrate the story of a man’s slow decline into madness, subsequent to the death of the only woman he ever loved. The tracks of this album are varied in style, ranging from slow and melodic to aggressive and progressive.
A long tour followed with Nevermore sharing stages with bands such as Mercyful Fate, Arch Enemy, Iced Earth, and Opeth. After the end of the tour, in 2000, guitarist Tim Calvert announced his departure from the band, subsequent to his marriage. Instead of finding a replacement, the band decided to continue as a quartet, hiring session guitarists for live appearances, such as Curran Murphy (who went on to play in Annihilator) and Jag Panzer’s Chris Broderick. Nevermore proceeded to record Dead Heart in a Dead World,which was followed by tours with several bands, most notably with In Flames and Shadows Fall in late 2000 and Savatage in 2001.
The band’s fifth album, Enemies of Reality, remained in production for over a year, and was released in 2003. This album faced much criticism for its production and was re-released in 2005, after being remixed by Andy Sneap. On tour, the band was joined by second lead guitarist Steve Smyth, formerly of Vicious Rumors and Testament; Smyth was eventually added to the line-up on a permanent basis.
A sixth album, This Godless Endeavor, was released in July 2005. Nevermore then toured on Dave Mustaine’s Gigantour during the summer of 2005. In 2006, they toured with Disturbed and also as direct support to In Flames on the second leg of its North American tour.
Nevermore performed the show on October 11, 2006. The double DVD set would also include a Nevermore documentary, all of the band’s promo videos and past recordings from their 11-year career. The DVD was released on October 20, 2008, and is entitled The Year of the Voyager.
On August 30, 2007, it was announced that Steve Smyth would no longer be a member of the band, citing personal and business reasons for the departure. He stated that he would also be touring with Danish metal band Hatesphere as they supported Behemoth and later Dimmu Borgir, and would also be working on the release of The Esseness Project, an all-instrumental progressive rock album. Dane and Loomis entered the studio, each to record a solo album. Dane recorded Praises to the War Machine and Loomis recorded Zero Order Phase, both released in 2008. Later that year, the band released their first ever live concert CD/DVD titled The Year of the Voyager, the only release to feature veteran touring guitarist Chris Broderick, who departed to join Megadeth.
In an interview with Komodo Rock published in July, Jeff Loomis said that “I actually have six or seven songs already for the new Nevermore record. I’m about half way there, and we’re going to be going into the studio probably some time in the early fall.” Nevermore were one of the first bands to be confirmed for Wacken Open Air 2009, where they performed alongside many bands including Motörhead, DragonForce and HammerFall. Nevermore entered the studio in August with producer and Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers to record their long-awaited 7th album The Obsidian Conspiracy. The recording was completed in October 2009 and was released June 8, 2010 in America, and May 31, 2010 in the EU On June 1, 2010, Nevermore announced a North American Tour in Fall with openers Warbringer, Hatesphere and Blackguard.
On April 12, 2015 Warrel Dane confirmed that Nevermore is not dead, and that there is a possibility for a new Nevermore album in the next two years, saying: “I have secret plans. I have secret plans. I had all the lyrics written for a new NEVERMORE record right after…when Jeff and Van both decided to leave the band. I had all the lyrics written for the next album — all of them. It was kind of a conceptual thing and continuing with the tradition of all the NEVERMORE lyrics that were evolving and turning into a perpetual story. And there’s a possibility that, yeah, there will be another [album]. There’s support there from the record company, probably. There’s support from other people involved in the business that would mean maybe it would be a good idea to do another one. So don’t be surprised if there is a new NEVERMORE record within the next two years.” Warrel Dane also commented further on his relationship with Jeff Loomis and his possible involvement in the future, stating: “I don’t know who will be in the band. All I can say is that I will be, Jim Sheppard will definitely be…I would love for Jeff Loomis to do it, but he’s in ARCH ENEMY now, so I don’t know if that’s possible. Because we’re not enemies. We don’t talk much, but we’re definitely not enemies. We didn’t part on bad terms, so…We’ll see.
Arise and Purify!
In 2010, four of the founding SANCTUARY members — Warrel Dane, Jim Sheppard, Lenny Rutledge and Dave Budbill — came together for a few select reunion performances. At first, it was just going to be a handful of shows, but the response and chemistry on stage was so overwhelming that they decided to reunite permanently. The band’s first shows after included Jeff Loomis as a second guitarist, though he departed simultaneously to his departure from Nevermore. Former Forced Entry guitarist Brad Hull, who had earlier touring experience with the band, became a permanent member shortly after.
The band’s third studio album, The Year the Sun Died, was finished in June 2014 and released on October 14 in North America and October 6 in Europe via Century Media. It was produced by Zeuss.The track listing was revealed in August 2014, artwork and the song “Arise and Purify” made available. A lyric video for “Exitium (Anthem of the Living)” was released shortly thereafter, with the video for single “Frozen” debuting on October 7. Ultimately, three songs on the album did feature Dane’s trademark high-pitched vocals, though the majority of the singing was more in line with the baritone and bass vocals that were featured prominently in Nevermore.
Remembering the rain, we can live again…
On December 13th, 2017, the worldwide metal community mourned the passing of a truly unique voice, an extremely gifted songwriter, and above all a wonderful human being, that will be dearly missed: WARREL DANE, who died of a heart attack during the recordings of his second solo album in São Paulo, Brazil.
Renowned for his work in Sanctuary and Nevermore as well as a solo artist, in 2014 Warrel had teamed up with Brazilian musicians Johnny Moraes (guitar), Thiago Oliveira (guitar), Fabio Carito (bass) and Marcus Dotta (drums) as his touring band and ultimately this successful collaboration led to plans for a new studio album. Recordings for “Shadow Work”, the follow-up to 2008’s “Praises to the War Machine”, started in fall 2017 at Orra Meu Studio, São Paulo, and Travis Smith commenced to create the artwork following a concept and ideas previously discussed with Warrel.
Then he passed away, left his fellow musicians, fans, friends and family as well as his label in shock putting the status of “Shadow Work” in limbo for a while.
After reviewing the material that could actually be completed using vocals from various studio and pre-production sessions with Warrel, the decision was made to release his final recordings as “Shadow Work”
We love you, Warrel.