Label: Eclipse Records
Buy Album: Eclipse Records Webstore
Band Website: http://www.nereisofficial.com/
Sam Fabrello – Guitar
Gian Nadalini – Bass
Dave Odorizzi – Drums
Andy Barchiesi – Lead Vocals
Mattia Pessina – Guitar
2. One Time Only
3. The Wave
4. What Is Wrong And What Is Right
5. Induced Extinction
6. Born To Fly
7. We Stand As One
9. Breaking Bad
10. Ready For War
11. Two Wolves
Originating from Trento, Italy, Nereis are a band with high ambitions. They make no apologies for wanting to reach a wide fan base and they have described their hope to become a worldwide, household name.
Whether they have the broad appeal to achieve this remains to be seen, but they have certainly made confident in-roads with one full-length album (Burnin’ Game) and an e.p. (From the Ashes) under their belt. They have also undertaken several high profile live dates such as the Sun Valley Metal Fest, and several support spots for AC/DC’s Chris Slade. They also continue to tour throughout Eastern Europe in cities such as Prague, Brno, and Bratislava.
Their newest 2018 release, Turning Point, punches straight in with some substantial riff work courtesy of its opening song, Unity. The energy levels are cranked up as Davide Odorizzi pushes things along with some solid drum work supported by the driving bass of Gianluca Nadalini. It’s a strong, melodic opener that quickly establishes Andy Barchiesi as a versatile singer with an impressive range. Guitar players Mattia Pessina and Samuel Fabrello are given their first opportunity to showcase some dexterous soloing and we are left in no doubt that Nereis are a very capable group of musicians.
There is an immediate clarity to the sound. Initially recorded at NoLogo Studio in Laives, Italy, Turning Point was then mixed and mastered by Mauro Andreolli at Das Ende der Dinge. The result is a crunchy, clear mix that favours the vocals and emphasises Barchiesi’s ability to layer several harmonies to very good effect.
It’s appropriate that Nereis describe themselves as a heavy rock band with a metal edge, but I do feel like some of the potential musical muscle is lost in what is essentially a polite and processed mix. The band appear to have used the studio to iron out all of the sonic creases and present themselves in a measured and meticulous way. This works well for some listeners, but personally, I tend to think a little bit of grit can be a good thing in rock & roll. Isn’t it SUPPOSED to sound edgy and dangerous? To my ears this sounds a bit too “nice.”
My initial trepidation at the well-tempered sound is further piqued by the band’s decision to give the second and third tracks on Turning Point over to an epic two part power ballad that unfortunately kills any momentum that had been built with their opening song.
One Time Only is a well intentioned but ultimately pointless piece of piano noodling that precedes a six minute slog through The Wave. It’s unfortunate, because my feelings about this song may be affected by the bands decision to put it so close to the front of the album. To me, it sounds like the aural equivalent of a promising athlete falling over early in the race.
The song does makes an admirable attempt to pick up the pace with some showy guitar runs, but ultimately just plods along with nothing to really hold my interest. Power ballads are a risky move. Done well, they can be an affirming experience, but for them to work with any degree of success they need a certain level of charisma that, sadly, I can’t find on The Wave. Instead, I experience it as an insincere effort that feels flat and does little more than tick the box marked “slow song.”
Thankfully, Nereis are up for the challenge of bringing things back up to pace. What is Wrong and What is Right is a tight rocker with a fun, retro appeal. Laden with keyboards, it strives for a similar pop rock sound to the one Judas Priest achieved on their Turbo album. It’s a high energy tune with another confident vocal performance from Barchiesi, to whom the band give credit as completing their “perfect” line up when he joined in 2014.
Induced Extinction brings with it a stylistic change and demonstrates that the band are able to draw on many different influences within the rock spectrum. On this song they fall into a prog-rock snarl that evokes the idiosyncratic riffing of a band like Tool. It also seems to mark the point where Nereis hit their stride. A confidence has come in to play that the band seem inspired to run with and carry into the next song (Born to Fly), which develops from a menacing, overdriven guitar into a stabbing bounce that is a high point on the album.
Interestingly, Andy Barchiesi’s vocals remind me of Incubus’s Brandon Boyd on the energetic and melodic choruses. This is a reference that comes up for me several times when listening to the album; possibly, most of all on the spacey, funk rock of Overdrive which has an alternative, late nineties rhythmic thrust to it and would have sat well on the aforementioned’s S.C.I.E.N.C.E. album.
Nereis are doing well to redeem themselves from the awkward early stage of the album. It’s not all plain sailing (if you’ll excuse the pun). At the centre of the album is a two minute sea shanty called We Stand As One, which to my ears, sounds like a pirate crew manned by the Bee Gees.
Thankfully, it’s a brief misstep and quickly forgotten as the album plays on. Breaking Bad is given a long intro but it soon finds a solid pace that is propelled by an industrial throb and a quality riff that brings John Bush era Anthrax to mind. It’s definitely one of Turning Point’s more concrete headbangers and it features some spectacular guitar playing, which is a frequent feature on this record.
The six string work throughout this album is technically brilliant. Mattia Pessina and Samuel Fabrello are obviously well skilled and can effortlessly undertake some pyrotechnic soloing, but I would like to hear a bit more of the emotional side of their musicianship; essentially, this is my main criticism of Turning Point. There are some enjoyable songs on here but the emphasis seems to be placed too heavily on technical presentation and proficiency. The performances are clean, as is the production, and it ultimately makes for quite a cold and removed listening experience. I don’t get the sense that these songs MEAN anything other than being an impressive showcase for some very capable musicians.
That’s not to say that Turning Point should be avoided by any means, but I would exercise caution if you prefer your rock music to strive for something a bit more visceral and rougher around the edges.
Ready for War nudges the listener in this direction. It contains big riffs and it’s one of the heavier songs on the album. It also precedes the album’s first single: Two Wolves, which is a high energy tune with an almost Japanese feel to it. Nereis have released an impressive video for the song and explained its theme as follows:
“Our Two Wolves music video is about a Cherokee native American legend which illustrates the central internal struggle of humanity. In this legend, a tribal elder is teaching his grandson about life. He explains that there is a battle between two spirit wolves going on inside each of us. One is evil, and the other good. The first represents anger, greed, arrogance, and self-pity. The second represents peace, love, humility, and kindness. The grandson thinks about this for a few minutes, then asks which will win? His grandfather replies that the wolf you feed will win.”
A brief a capella harmony ushers in Now, which is the final track on the album. As I listen to its cleverly executed time changes and transitions I am left reflecting on what has been a mixed experience listening to this album. Turning Point is rich with musical ideas and it takes it’s influences from a wide spectrum of rock music. It delivers all of this with a level of musicianship that is completely worthy of high praise. Barchiesi in particular emerges as a capable and accomplished singer and it’s unsurprising that the album often turns a spotlight to him. For all of this it should rightly be praised
However, I can’t shake the niggling feeling that for Turning Point to be a better album it needs to lose its self consciousness and loosen up a bit. The songs that work best are the ones where they allow themselves to rock out and take a less-is-more approach; where they sound like they are having fun. Born to Fly and Breaking Bad are good examples of this but sadly a lot of this album veers too far into an exercise in competence for competence’s sake.
World domination may require an updated approach.