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Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Nemesea - Uprise

Nemesea is a Dutch band that, nowadays, plays a dark type of rock which is achieved by the clever use of keys. Founded in 2002 in Groningen, the Netherlands, by vocalist Manda Ophuis and guitarist HJ de Jong they started as a Gothic metal band. They had an instant impact in the metal world, having toured as support for After Forever only a year after the band came into existence, followed by the release of ‘Mana’, their debut album a year later. Since then they have released two more albums, ‘In control’ in 2007 and ‘The quiet resistance’ in 2011. This year their fourth full-length, called ‘Uprise’, will be unleashed to the world. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that every new release takes a year longer. Anyway, as long as the music is good it doesn’t really matter. Judging by its title, we should be up for some feisty stuff, but their statement the focus shifted from metal to strong rock, making ‘Uprise’ their most accessible album to date, slightly concerns me. Time to find out what we’re dealing with here.

I’ll be honest about this one, if you’re a fan of Nemesea’s music from before this album, you might have some adapting to do when you play this release. Every word of the aforementioned statement about focus shifting is true in my opinion. However, they have made the adapting process as easy for you as they could, because ‘Upsrise’ starts with ‘Hear me’, a powerful, energetic rock song with a great vibe that isn’t all that different from their earlier material. Even the gothic influences are audible here and there. Its strong, catchy guitar riff, played by HJ, supported by an equally catchy rhythm section, played by Sonny Onderwater, underline Manda’s pleasant, vibrant vocal efforts, making it quite easy to get used to their new sound.

And this is not an exception, there’s quite a few more of these spirited songs to be found on ‘Uprise’. No matter which song you choose, the almost poppy ‘Can’t believe it’, the surprising ‘Bones’ with its oriental vibes at the end, the electrifying ‘Get out’ or the vivacious ‘Twilight’ to name a few, the energy splashes off of every single song with a relentless force. Every now and then there’s the earlier mentioned hint of their gothic roots, adding a bit of darkness to the overall vibe and atmosphere in the songs.

The ultimate example of Nemesea’s new style, or perhaps what I would like their new style to be, is the song ‘Forever’. Catchy riffs, a powerful rhythm section, an awesome vocal performance by Manda, which displays the full reach of her voice, the mildly dark, somewhat ominous intermezzos, all elements of the new Nemesea are forged together in an impressive song.

Completing the album is a couple of ballads, ‘Let it burn’ and ‘Light the sky’, although the term ballads is to be used loosely here. Power ballads would be the more correct term here, consisting of soft, smooth starts with some great keys that build up to powerful endings. Manda’s voice is perfectly capable of unleashing hell in any type of rock or metal song, but she’s equally skilled when it comes to singing more sensitive lines, effortlessly switching from a pained whisper to a truly hurt scream. An asset to this release I’d say.

So ‘Uprise’ is one of those albums that is over before you know it, let alone are ready for that to happen. It’s filled with energetic, catchy rock songs interspersed with powerful ballads. Admittedly, Nemesea has strayed from the metal path they were on, which will undoubtedly disappoint part of their fans, but in all honesty, they do a damn’ good job in their new style as well. You can hear and even feel the members are truly enjoying themselves when playing these songs, this switch might prove to be a good move. Great release, worth everyone’s time if you ask me.

Written by Henric van Essen

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