Review: Nemesis – The War Is On

Nemesis – The War Is On (Grom Records)
Review by Milos Sebalj

You’ve all heard of extreme metal bands wearing make-up on stage. Hell, even some of the less extreme did it. Rarely do you come across a band whose members wear make-up offstage. It takes a certain kind of devotion. Or perhaps…

As you have probably noted already, the quintet in question have made little effort in choosing a name. I’ll admit to being way too lazy to count the number of global nemesis’s. Arch Enemy, to whose song they have picked their moniker, surely has enough suitable verses to choose from. Even the album in question (2005’s Doomsday Machine) has a couple of quite interesting titles. It takes just a bit of investigating to find a suitable word(s).

Furthermore, I’m heavily against any crowd funding campaigns regarding music. As I gather from the, otherwise neatly designed, booklet, one was necessary to get this CD going. Or maybe they needed funds to record the album. Whatever the deal was, recordings can be made quite cheaply with the right software and a bit of equipment and knowhow. Very decent recordings, for that matter. On the other hand, if you want world-class production… Well, let’s just say the price will be world-class as well. Following your dreams will never be cheap, whichever road you take, as the lyrics on the record clearly state. And it will absolutely take a whole lot of self-sacrifice, be it physical, psychological or economical. Don’t take the easy way out if you truly believe in whatever it is you’re doing. And Nemesis certainly believes in their music. I’m sure! ‘The War Is On’ speaks volumes about it.

While it might not be the most original piece of music you’ve ever heard, it does bear certain qualities you will find missing with their obvious influences. First and foremost, original ideas. Sure, death metal primarily focused on melody was done and re-done countless times. With the countless repetitions of the same patterns comes a very audible tiredness and lack of fresh approach. Nemesis didn’t go for the fresh approach either. However, they have compensated for it with enough creativity to cast a shadow over a whole decade of albums by their idols. Especially when it comes to guitar work. Fairly catchy leads throughout make ‘The War Is On’ stick to one’s memory. There is some obvious talent for developing guitar parts on display here. The songs have a certain flow with just enough technicality used not to steal the ‘thunder’ from the tracks themselves. Speaking of thunder, the rhythm section does pack a certain groove that is necessary for the genre. While the bass guitar might not be the dominant force here it keeps the heat on. Still, the focus is placed on the drums. And there is quite a punch coming your way. It seems the drummer knows her place perfectly. There are places where the drums just need to be the backbone and others where they have to accentuate the feel of the song. Both of them nailed! That right there provides for much of the needed energy impulse this album swarms with. Vocals are somewhat of a surprise to me. As the obvious influence was Angela Gossow (can’t be too picky with female growl influences, right?), I find a lot of lessons learned from Chuck Schuldiner. Pronunciation, as the best example. Otherwise, the voice of Nemesis sounds confident and firm in her delivery. Also, I cannot go without mentioning a nicely fitted detail of background operatic voices on ‘Divine Retribution’. Fine example of a good idea put to good use. Can’t say the same about the lyrics unfortunately, since they carry a certain naïve way to writing. Social topics dominate, with a lot of tried and tested clichés running around. But this is the debut, so let’s not be too hard on them.

There are clear advantages and disadvantages to ‘The War Is On’. The truth is, this is a strong outing for a debuting band. A whole lot of potential for further growth is portrayed here. This one surely isn’t a ‘slam dunk’ but there just might be greatness hidden from us. At least for now.
I wouldn’t normally point it out but since I’m writing these lines on March 8, I feel it is necessary to wish these five girls a happy International Women’s Day. We need more of you on the stages worldwide! And not just because of your looks!

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