Release DetailsLABEL N/A
RELEASED ON 12/31/2010
posted on 5/2011 By:
Damn Neurosis to eternal flames and torture! Before them, metal was a place that one could easily – if not always comfortably – venture into and map its different strains easily. There were clear lineages, easily-defined brood and forefathers. And then, those… those hippy punks from 'Frisco came and the game suddenly changed totally. Even with their first tentative venture into what would steadily and mightily become their own apocalyptic sound (the seminal The Word As Law), Neurosis shifted the paradigm and suddenly the lines blurred: Metal became a bubbling cauldron where different ingredients, from hardcore, no-wave and doom to minimalism, goth, post-rock and ambient were reacting violently, creating strange end-products and exotic sounds.
After Neurosis established that nothing was verboten in metal so long as one was always dedicated in the “heavy”, a whole slew of bands came out of metal’s cracks and holes, establishing what has become known as the “post metal” sound, a port-manteau that really says nothing at all, since under this tag one can easily put bands like Isis or Cult Of Luna (purveyors and direct descendants of Neurosis’ universe-annihilating heavosity), Jesu (whose penchant for clearly-defined, almost poppy melodies put them closer to shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine), Alcest (who mix black metal’s trebly violence with post-rock’s introspection) or Worm Orobouros (a criminally underappreciated doom/chamber music combo). What this whole thing means is that post metal opened new exciting vistas for adventurous musicians and mutated metal in ways that most probably bands like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden never even thought possible.
Enough philosophizing, though. There’s a job at hand and it’s Nero Order’s first record, called The Tower. Nero Order falls into the Neurosis/Isis sub-category of post metal. This means that the band creates long, convoluted, albeit generally slow pieces, full of super-dense guitar riffing, serious use of dynamics in composition (the “loud-soft-loud” rule…) and musical lines that are equally composed of consonant and dissonant elements. The band’s music aims equally for the body and the mind: it hits hard, creating maelstroms of distortion and heaviness, but, at the same time, it’s structurally and compositionally interesting enough to make the listener not only headbang, but also perk his/her ears and search for the hooks and melodic elements of each song.
Did I say “hooks”? Sure I did, because Nero Order, though clearly inspired by Neurosis’ terrible force, manages to make their songs pretty listenable, considering their bulk (the shortest of the four songs contained here is nine minutes long; the longest almost reaches 18 minutes) and the dark, oppressive nature of the music. Consciously or not, Nero Order succeeds in making their songs memorable and easy-flowing, especially when compared with their forefathers’ more impenetrable legacy. What I also find pretty enticing is the fact that each part of the suite-like songs seems calculated to work perfectly within the context of each track, something that tells me that the bandmembers clearly put effort when composing them.
Of course, there are a couple of things that really mar the whole proceedings. For one, the vocals, which are of the howling kind, become really grating after some time. They lack Neurosis’ brutal command, Isis’ theatricality, or Cult Of Luna’s power; they just seem forced and unconvincing. Also, some production decisions seem unfortunate: the guitars, while heavy enough, lack the crucial bit of presence that would elevate them to the appropriate level of heaviness for such music. And the drums lack a bit of much-needed punch and power, while sometimes the drummer overdoes it with the rolls and whatnot. All in all, though, The Tower is an interesting addition to the post metal canon. If Nero Order manages to overcome the problems that mar this first endeavor, the band might easily achieve great things in the future.
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