This week I review local metal core band NeverWake's recent release, "Sleepwalker."
This local band has been rocking the Ohio Valley for a couple of years now. While there's no shortage of metal band's locally, NeverWake is definitely a cut above most of what I hear. Composed of Johnny DiCarlo on vocals and guitar; James Watson on guitar; George Scott on bass; and Marcus Giannamore on drums, the band's second album, like its first, was recorded at Mike Ofca's Innovation Studio.
I've often believed if this band and a handful of others were in a different area, they might have gained a larger following. But in this age of "do it yourself," and with the Internet, it's possible to be a successful band and build a strong following through word of mouth on the Internet grapevine.
NeverWake comes from a musical family, as leader Johnny DiCarlo is son of John DiCarlo, leader of the longtime valley rock band U.S. Kids. My understanding is he's also related to the girl/dad band Spinning Jenny, the finest rock band in the Ohio Valley with an 11-year-old on bass and keys.
Like the band's first release, "Sleepwalker" is an impressive slice of modern metal walking hand in hand with hooks and choruses most metal bands might find beneath them. But that's actually the band's best attribute - while many modern metal bands riff on an open tuning on a low "C" power chord to show how "dark" they are - BORING -the guys in NeverWake can actually play AND flirt with different styles, successfully.
NeverWake isn't afraid to try new things or step outside of the metal box, so to speak - I like the touches of keys and baroque dissonance that peppers most of their music, as well as the changing of the dynamics on a dime. While other bands flirt with the harmonic minor scale and diminished arpeggios - again, to give the impression of "darkness" - NeverWake bases entire compositions or sections of songs on these tricky devices. It's very easy to overuse the harmonic minor scale, as a little bit goes a long way, especially in a rock tune. But NeverWake never sounds pretentious nor forced using exotic sounds, and using them in a novel way.
It's impressive songwriting - sounding darkly metal but also accessible at the same time.
Sonically the album is a wonder, and this is no doubt Ofca's prowess at the mixing table. There are other fine engineers in the valley, but no one sounds constantly "modern" like Ofca, no matter the style.
As a guitarist I really dig some of the mind-bending solos on the album as well. While I play mostly jazz these days, I also really dig Johnny DiCarlo's chops and inventive, innovative solos. For me, these are a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.
Lyrically, the album is on par with most modern metal, which really isn't my thing. But it's hard to be taken seriously in the dark metal world these days if you're singing songs about red roses, so I get it.
NeverWake should be proud of their sophomore effort not sounding "sophomoric" but even more focused and determined than their first album. Ultimately musical success depends not on popularity but how well you execute your art and message. NeverWake could be one of the best local bands