Negative Nero’s EP ‘Enemy’ – Review
Let’s talk about the impressive rise and rise of Negative Nero, earlier this month their debut EP reached number 1 in both the iTunes & Google Play Rock Album Chart. Impressive, right? Even more so when you learn that they recorded this fantastic EP during the summer of 2014 before releasing it on the iTunes Album charts at number 44 and later climbed into the top 5 at number 4. Hold on to your seats because there’s more, at the same time, their EP entered the Google Play charts outside the top 10 before shooting up to number 2 and then bumping Ed Sheeran’s album “X” off the Number 1 slot.
The EP, which was recorded, produced and promoted independently, is available to download on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. Comprising of four songs, “Enemy” EP is a brilliant and colourful amalgamation of hard rock crunch, epic atmosphere and earth-shattering vocal hooks. Negative Nero are: Dave Horan (vocals / guitar), Christian Stynes (guitar), Paul Hare (bass) and Hank O’Callaghan (drums).
Their title track, “Enemy”, has this amazing grunge quality, the steely rifts that resonate throughout the track most definitely draw their inspiration from Biffy Clyro yet the lead vocalist provides a depth to his lyrics that Biffy sometimes don’t maintain. It has the catchiest of little hooks, I’ve been singing “I’m not the enemy” to myself all evening, although not quite as well as the band themselves. They’re also not afraid to let a few guitar solos rip so don’t be surprised if you find yourself playing air guitar around your apartment. It’s clear to see why “Enemy” has been taken the prestigious first play spot on the EP, the metallic clash of drums and electric guitar setup listeners for the unique sound of Negative Nero. That heavy metal and hard-hitting rock sound is certainly not a prominent style on the Irish music scene these days. It’s a fantastic opener, with all the elements of a head-banging track but with vocals as smooth and powerful as any top 40 track these days.
Their second track, “Through It All”, has a slow and simmering quality to it, there’s a greater emphasis on the drums in the opening on this track, which create the slow and steady beat that allows one to focus on the anxious, yet hopeful lyrics of the track. Combine the style of the first two tracks on the album and you have a perfect reflection of idiosyncratic sound of Negative Nero, air punching-guitar with deeply personal lyrics. “Although it hurts to slip away, to lose yourself and feel it fade”, the band are clearly speaking from experience when they present us with lines like this yet by packaging it in such a guitar focused song allows one to appreciate it as an anthem. I defy anyone who listens to this EP and says they didn’t engage in a bit of head banging, honestly, it’s impossible.
This was an EP that I got really into because it spoke to a part of my musical tastes that is left quite unsatisfied these days, pounding drums and deeply powerful vocals. It holds so much similarity to some of my favourite musicians like the Foos and Billy Talent, they were artists I grew up listening to, and to hear a home-grown act produce that style of music is just spine-tingling and amazing. “One Side of a Dream”, definitely drew upon the rock influences that were so prominent during the early 00s; Horan seems to pay homage to Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) in this track with more guttural vocals. “Remember You” had a much more mellow opening, the gentle guitar playing almost harkens back to rustic American rock, but Horan never lets the style of the band down with his echoing vocals, whilst the instrumental pace is initially slow, his vocals carry the track, capturing the perfect balance between rock ballad and air-guitar anthem. “Remember You” seems to demonstrate the band as more than capable of pushing the boundaries of their sound, it has clearly been placed as the closing track for a reason, the band demonstrate that they are as focused on hard-hitting lyrics as they are on their guitar riffs.
Review by Elaine McDonald