Nebula – Demos & Outtakes 98-02

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/label: Heavy Psych Sounds Records
Released: 2018
Buy Album: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS088
Band Website: https://atomicritual.com/

BAND LINE-UP:

Eddie Glass – Guitars,
Ruben Romano – Drums,
Mark Abshire – Bass.

TRACKLISTING:

1. Stagnant Pool (’00/01 Demo)
2. Whalefinger (’02 Demo)
3. Humbucker (’99 Demo)
4. Smokin’ Woman (’98 Demo)
5. Sun Creature (’98 Demo)
6. You Got It (’02 Demo)
7. To The Center (’99 Demo)
8. Synthetic Dream (’99 Demo)
9. How Does It Feel To Feel? (’99 Demo)
10. Nervous Breakdown (Live ’02)

REVIEW

NEBULA have been around for a fair while now, with the band’s birth occurring in the good old days of 1997. Since then, their’s has been a celebrated legacy, with the popular duo of “Charged” an “To The Center” making their mark on the musical landscape. Even with “Atomic Ritual”, their sound was described as though the band had been “hanging out in the garage since 1973”. So what’s the case with releasing the cuts that would have been rehearsed in said garage?

“Demos & Outtakes 98-02” is very much a “what it says on the tin” type of album. It’s just the pre-pro stuff; the earliest forms of the classic tunes. There’s still the big fuzzy riffs that the band are known for (see the chunky bugger that is “Humbucker”, or the groovy “You Got It”), but a little more toned-down. The comparison between their properly-recorded counterparts is really rather interesting – the softer tone still enables the tracks to work their magic, but it doesn’t lose anything in particular.

In fact, “Smokin’ Woman” works an absolute treat sporting a softer sound. It actually carries a rather sensual tone that would have worked fabulously were it the big boy version on the album. It feels less like a band playing in a garage, and more like one down your local venue having a raging time whilst everyone’s boozing and grooving. It’s not often a band could conjure something like that merely from the stripped-back riffing, lo-fi drums and grumbling bass, but it sure as hell happened.

Yet, despite all that, it is still merely a collection of scraps and bits ‘n’ bobs. Whilst “Whalefinger” represents Eddie Glass at his earliest in songwriting, the album presents nothing wholly new. The covers of “Stagnant Pool” by LEAF HOUND, “How Does It Feel To Feel?” by THE CREATION, and “Nervous Breakdown” by BLACK FLAG do the business in NEBULA’s unique style, but they don’t really offer much in the way of value for money. Is it a cash-grab? Highly unlikely, but it certainly feels closer to something of a stop-gap. The band hasn’t released anything since returning from their hiatus, so one wonders whether this is their call-to-arms? There’s suggestions of an album later this year, so this could very well be the warm-up act before that drops.

Will this collection of songs welcome an entirely new wave of fans to the NEBULA fold? Possibly not. It’s not exactly the usual assortment of greatest hits that one would expect at a similar point in a band’s career, but it’s absolutely one for fans to get their teeth stuck into. The slightly newer (or should that be older?) take on their classics offers an interesting insight into where the band were in their writing process, but it is still, at its core, NEBULA. That is, punk-influenced rock with a Southern-tinge that makes for the fun times, and has that Saturday night live at your favourite venue-vibe. Whilst it doesn’t add terribly much to the band’s legacy, “Demos & Outtakes 98-02” is worth a listen for fans (and those craving a sexy jam in “Smokin’ Woman”), but otherwise it’ll be all eyes to the future release proper.

REVIEW BY LEE CARTER
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