I hear Amaranthe calling! Most definitely. Well, so WRONG! Yonder band did not exist yet when the 2nd studio album In Control from Nemesea came to see the light of day. And they went straight over the edge of the flat and rocky Gothic Metal World, finding themselves in a DJane ready club world universe, where painted goblins reside.
What a change of direction going Pop Metal on me. Evil tongues would say electro-pop, but I am not evil, well only sometimes. Or should we say Synthie Pop? Nope, the metal aspect is clearly there still, whereas a bit hidden in the cupboard somewhere. And I would call In Control Gothic Metal only with a LOT of reservation, albeit some remnants continue to exist.
‘Tis actually a sea change if you compare In Control to their outstanding debut album Mana (this one still plays often on RockmusicRaider’s fancy music machine…). And judging by that angle, the wrath of some (the majority) of their 2007 fan base is understandable. Some of them clearly thought they found themselves a new Within Temptation or Epica clone that could easily be shelved into this genre or that. Far from the truth, as it turned out. I like it when bands refuse to fit into silos or boxes. But go full blown Pop Metal?
So, where is all this on the lunar scale of all sins metal?
There are other bands in this genre and I won’t name any names. Those just go for catchy sound bytes and frankly terrible lyrics, just destined to feed the mighty marketing machine to spit out more sales. At the cost of quality and originality. Bullshit people into buying stuff they do not actually want nor need.
Not so here with this band: What sets Nemesea apart from other cardinal sinners in this genre is authenticity. Yes! First, free yourself from the remnants of Mana roaming around in your mind. Then listen to the lyrics and the way Nemesea deliver all that jazz. The lyrics are another positive point of In Control and this is where a lot of the passion and authenticity come from. Authenticity, passion, drive – three main ingredients to mix a good album. With some ice cubes, mint and a lot of rum.
THIS is what made me listen to In Control from beginning to the end. Of course the powerful vocal talents of cute Manda Ophuis and the musical prowess of the band are a main contributor as well. On top, they kept the synths to a level that do not want to make me rush to the dentist because my teeth hurt all of a sudden. But just about.
Short is the pleasure too, but intense: No track is more than four minutes long, some shorter – in all some 34 minutes or so, all told. That is pushing it in the acceptable department. No More turns out to be the ultimate power song of In Control. Hiding the metal behind its poppy façade, it ultimately will get under your skin and follow you around. This one is a bit scratchier than the other somewhat whitewashed tracks.
The best song from In Control is Believe, starting softly – pure Nemesea heartbreak – taking on steam quickly makes you want to cruise down the highway along the coast and listen to the music full blast. And this is VERY closely followed by the surprise on In Control called Like the Air. Its pretty straight structure all of a sudden goes full blast Manda with stellar vocals, followed by … a solo. Albeit a very short and simple one. Pretty cool that and clearly a rival to Believe. But the track is so short, it feels like a quickie. 169 seconds of ecstasy…
This brings me to the main negative of this record: It has got no rough edges to speak of, dammit. All produced in short bursts to go to club distribution straight away. Like ready-made sauce from the supermarket. Spiced a bit, but not too much. Wherever did the Dutch preference of hot spices go? Now, Nemesea corrected that fault some in the next album. And reverted right back to that kind of shenanigan in Uprise, so go figure.
To conclude, In Control is a total change from its well lauded sibling Mana, defecting from Gothic Rock and Metal to the happy Synthie universe. But with a darker atmosphere attached to it, close to its metal roots. That they did not inject any growling is a blessing, thank Loki.
Having realized that Mana was not really the promised land, they went ahead and crowdfunded their own project. On a totally different style to boot and THIS deserves respect. It is this authenticity thing all over again.
Yet, whilst changing tack is good, I would nevertheless have appreciated some darker version of the Nemesea style. To me there are way too many poppy elements in this dream fabric. And this pulls the quality of the album way down.
We would like to see more of the Dark Side in the next record and first signs were already visible in their follow-on The Quiet Resistance.
Keep going, folks.
Record Rating: 6/10 | Label: SellaBand | Web: Official Site