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Neronia: Nero

Evolving from 90s progressive outfit Ulysses, Germany's Neronia have undergone further line-up reshuffles before settling on the foursome who present the Nero album for our delectation. Still operating in the progressive arena, but now with a harder edge, the vibe of what this band strive for certainly still belongs in the neo-prog movement, although a with few more contemporary guitar stylings thrown in for good measure. Surprisingly for the chosen attack, the keyboard forays from singer Falk Ullmann are reasonably sparse, and while that does leave Neronia at least attempting something a little different, it also creates a fairly large hole in the band's armoury.

The lead instrument therefore is Rüdiger Zaczyk's angry guitar and coupled with a solid drum display (if decidedly clatterey in the mix) from Dirk Hartel and expansive bass forays courtesy of Lutz Beberweil, there's no doubting the ability this band possess to rip out impressive solos or motifs. However the songs themselves seem to lack any real character, the production more solid and steady than it is flash and satisfying, the lack of keyboards possibly robbing the end results of a facet that could have saved the day.

Vocally Ullmann is a conundrum, his confident range and full bodied attack offset by an annoying warble (think early Damien Wilson, but less controlled), noticeable accent and an unwise desire to add an aggressive edge that really doesn't come off. In the end it leaves a set of songs that frustrate; the outline of interesting ideas and strong musical ability never fully built upon. "When It's All Over" is a prime example, a decent framework shied away from through a lack of will to inject much excitement into an all too slow, easy beat. "Raindrops" hints at the melodic prog Saga have long specialised in, however the intrigue or confident twists and turns that should keep you fully dialled in never really arrive. Add in that none of the choruses or melody lines stick long in the memory and as Nero draws to a close, it's hard not to feel a little underwhelmed. This album isn't a disaster by any manner of means and yet once the perfectly likeable "Cry For Love", "Shadowland" or "Blowing Away" have faded into the distance, it's hard to suggest that any one moment lives on.

The current music scene leaves it perfectly possible for bands to go down the homegrown route of self written, self funded, self recorded and while there are a few bands who take that structure and knock the results long out of the park, all too often what you're left with are perfectly fine albums that simply lack the sheen, class or uniqueness that a top line producer and recording facility would afford. On that basis it's hard to knock the likes of Neronia or the hard work and dedication they've obviously put into this album. However neither is it possible to recommend you go out and spend your hard earned cash on it.

Track Listing
1. Shadowland
2. Cry For Love
3. Cold And Strange
4. Endless Game
5. Raindrops
6. The Real Thing
7. Blowing Away
8. When It's All Over

Added: April 24th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Neronia on Bandcamp
Hits: 1674
Language: english

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