When a band called Art of Dying refers to their upcoming EP, Nevermore, as a “resurrection,” you have to appreciate the irony. Although if you’re a DieHard fan, you’ll realize there really isn’t any irony since “…the art of dying is your life to live.” Nevermore presents six songs of rebirth under the umbrella of a title paying homage to Smeagol the Raven and frontman Jonny Hetherington’s love of the poet Poe. New drummer Cody Watkins takes the “drum throne” from Jeff Brown, and Art of Dying leaves their label to form their own Vices and Virtues, named after their 2011 LP of the same name. In the land of new beginnings, Art of Dying delivers six solid songs that form a sort of retroactive bridge between 2015’s Rise Up and 2012’s Art of Dying in a way that might have lessened the blow of the former, but would have made the delivery of the later perhaps less nostalgically sublime.
The first track, “All or Nothing” is a definitive Art of Dying tune, with instantly recognizable cord progressions and riffs by Tavis Stanley laying the foundation for the vocal prowess of Hetherington. The second song, “Torn Down” highlights another perfect pitch in the Art of Dying wheelhouse: prolific lyrics. “I won’t get lost in the silent screams that fall on me,” is pure prose, resting easy on the ears while laying heavy on the heart. In a recent interview, Jonny revealed that Cale Gontier (bass/vocals) “really hates 80s bands.” Listen in amusement as Tavis lays some Journey-esque riffs in “Torn Down.”
In every Art of Dying record there is the lighter-in-the-air ballad, and title track “Nevermore” delivers on that promise. There is a simple and ageless beauty in the construction of this tune. The note progression rises in the chorus like a battle cry, and the repetition of lyrics makes this an instant fan sing-along. Says Hetherington, “If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship, or if you’ve ever been in a place where you don’t want to be, and you finally decide to get out, and the clouds part and you say, “Now that I know/I can let go/leave this all behind/I’m taking control/on my own/I can finally feel alive/I don’t need you anymore.” It’s such a — the hairs are standing up on my arm just saying that out loud because it’s such a great release.”
“Seen This Coming” comes in at track four, and rather than rest light after the power ballad, Art of Dying lays down a radio-friendly tune with a memorable chorus and lyrics that give comfort to my own faulty coping mechanisms. “Paradise” brings the classic AOD harmonies married to a grunge sound that inspired Disturbed’s Dan Donegan to dub them “Eagles in Chains” (a combination of the Eagles and Alice in Chains.) Wrapping up the EP is the first release of Nevermore, “Cages” featuring a haunting beat by new drummer Watkins, and bringing it all back to the instantly recognizable AOD vibe that birthed an army of devoted DieHards.
Nevermore JUST dropped an hour ago and it can be downloaded now via iTunes or purchased directly from the guys at artofdyingmusic.com. Their headlining tour is underway and dates are available here. As always, you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as artofdyingmusic.com.