Nemesea – Mana
31/03/2005 § Leave a comment
Label: Ebony Tears
I hadn’t realised that up until November this year I had been living the life of a veal calf. I had heard of Nemesea but I hadn’t heard very much about them and thought that they would be nothing but another dime-a-dozen Gothic band that runs around the feet of the bigger players like a badly-behaved rugrat. As the Gothic Metal scene expands, and we will be seeing more of this over the coming years, new bands are being formed by people too easily inspired and too eager to ride the nu-gravy train to hopefully arrive at somewhere approximating notoriety. There are bands that I know who will forever be looping in the vortex of the optimistic and never creating anything remarkable. Then there are those than ram the scene head-on and there is no doubt that what you have in front of you is a very talented band. Nemesea hit me almost out of the blue. And Mana, their primordial offertory work to the scene, is a surprising and welcome breath of fresh air to me, and to not have heard more of their work since their inception I may as well have been trussed up in the dark somewhere, so sinfully ignorant I was of their bounty.
Holland pretty much has a five-star rating at the moment as a country that is producing some fine music in the Gothic metal scene, with only a couple of bands besmirching the reputation of an otherwise fine selection. I doubt whether it’s so much that something’s in the water in Holland than the established bands are giving way to another demi-generation of talented singers and songwriters who have been inspired by the likes of After Forever and Within Temptation. Nemesea will be the next big thing on the scene, they deserve to be, and there is some seriously basic injustice in the world [or in Europe at least] if that is not to be the case.
The influences are noticeable from very early on in the album, some of the passages and the combinations are quite reminiscent of After Forever. However, Nemesea’s music is not as technically adept, nor does it need to be since the effect that it gives is overwhelming and one that seriously impresses the listener. They experiment very nicely with tempo and time signature – the speed and rhythm which a song starts is not necessarily that with which it will finish, and the quiet, drawn-out choral sections are often rounded off with a digression into some death-metally blast-beats. However, this isn’t as harsh as it sounds since the warm and calming synths in the background make sure that the music firmly stays in the realm of Gothic Metal and doesn’t veer off into death or black. The same goes for the vocals too, there is the odd occasion where death vocals appear on a song, but it’s never for more that about a line, just popping their head in to be noticed and then buggering off again. Nemesea seem to have got their sound pretty well nailed down very quickly when so many bands are still trying to find themselves on their debut.
Manda’s vocals are something else that impressed me since I was expecting her to sound less sure of herself and to go off in quite a few places. A lot of times I have a phobia towards debut albums since they’re never very polished and more often than not quite embarrassing and a bad indication of what the band’s future sound will be like. Manda’s voice is reminiscent of Anneke from The Gathering’s, and I’m sure she’s very much an inspiration. Manda also manages to keep in tune very well, only occasionally needing to polish her delivery on the higher notes, but some of the passages she delivers certainly lets us know that the best is yet to come. Her voice sounds very much like it’s in its fledgling stages of development and there are tinges of brilliance to her talent which will hopefully shine forth to give us something really special on later releases.
What Mana also manages to do so well is to give us no less than 11 excellent songs, with none of them being fillers, each one being different from the other and all having their own colours to them. Each listener is likely to find something they love in each song, such is the musical patchwork of sounds and rhythms here, from the wonderful intro of Empress, the gorgeous piano chords in Angel In The Dark, the rhythm changes in Mortalitas Pt 1 and the time signature changes in the chorus of Lucifer. The only slightly outlandish thing about the album is the lyrics, which can be a little unusual in places and a lot of the time focus on the supernatural and witchcraft, while thankfully just missing being naff – you contact beings on the other side and use their enormous power/no human being with perfect trust is able to empower and thirteen witches came together/at midnight in a wood/a chalice with wine and their blood/and no difference between evil and good. Manda’s vocals are refreshingly clear in their diction and most of the time it’s possible to hear exactly what she’s singing, though the words are less punctuated the higher she goes.
Nevertheless you really have to burrow into the bedrock of Mana to find any problems with it, and if you do manage to dig one out it’s pretty easy to overlook it. One thing is for certain, Nemesea are a very confident band who have a lot of belief in their own work. I can’t remember the last time that I came across such a seriously good debut as this with fantastic song-writing and musicianship, which are well aided by the clear mix and production. I’m sure that Nemesea have a lot of good music to come, but it’s almost futile to concentrate on the future when what the present holds is so masterful.