heard from several sources that 2014 has been a great year for progressive
metal. Yet, I can count the releases I've really enjoyed on one hand!
This Aussie band released an amazingly complex grower of an album a few years
back wherein they combined brutal riffs with incredibly spacey keys. Well, these
guys (and gal) are back with "Nebulae", and they have upped their game in every
imaginable way, too.
concept albums, and, for the first way they have improved, I feel like their
album concept is stronger and particularly more concise.
"Nebulae" is a story about apathy and meaninglessness giving way to love
and fullness of joy. You can certainly feel the love between the two primary
vocalists, Douglas and Jessica (lovers in real life). If there is one emotion
that hits the listener hard between the eyes, it is the palpable love that
simply flows from the passion and lyrics in this album. I must take a moment,
however, and talk about the pure quality of the vocalists here. Douglas has the
voice of an angel. Huge highs and groovy lows are nothing for him, and his voice
is tinged with a quality that is so sincere and so real. Jessica, his
counterpart, also has an extremely melodic voice. Hearing these two sing
together is a real treat that no one should miss, especially when their voices
are so strong in the mix.
music is equally noteworthy. Again, we get brutal, inventive riffs from Douglas
and Mitch, plus we are treated to the best keys I've heard so far in 2014.
Phill's keys twirl and swirl in, out, and around the guitar play, creating a
sense of elation and fullness of sound. On top of this foundation, though, the
band goes out on a limb here and there, such as in the amazing song "Lust",
which dabbles in 70's funk and also showcases Jessica's great bass skills. From
their dark fascinations in "Freedom" and their depictions of shallowness in "Nightlives"
to their powerful epic "Strength" and the ballad "Soulmates", this album is
endowed with richness, deliberate pacing, and clear inspiration. As "Nebulae"
was originally meant to be an EP, the band must have really stumbled onto some
great ideas somewhere. It has really paid off in spades.
favorite tracks are definitely "Lust" and "Strength", and for entirely different
reasons. While the former has amazing groove and headbang-ability, the latter
has the spacey theatrics that I was truly hoping for in this album. I'm honestly
flabbergasted by this album, and I can't really think of anything bad to say
about it. If anything, the album could have been a little shorter, but that's
nitpicking at best. "Nebulae" has joined the very few progressive metal albums
in 2014 that have impressed me at all, and it has joined one other album
(Distorted Harmony's "Chain Reaction") in the list of prog metal albums that
have been truly outstanding this year. This is a must-hear for metal fans and
rock fans alike, as both will find complexity, melody, and memorability herein.
Thanks to the band for the promotional copy.