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–Nexus: The Taint (Agoge Records, 2017)

–Nexus: The Taint (Agoge Records, 2017)

The Italian Peninsula is serving plenty of delicious, musical soul food these days. Long known internationally for its epic symphonic power metal output (Rhapsody, Labyrinth, et. al), the current Italian metal underground offers far more than just the sacharine, Pixie Stix-loving, bombastic speed freaks. After all, it’s not about the sub-genre, it’s about the tunes — metal dudes and dudettes.

Case in point: Nexus, a talented original heavy-rock quintet hailing from L’Aquila, Italy. Anchored by lead vocalist, guitarist, and head songwriter Vlad Voicu, Nexus cooks up a delectable metallic pasta spiced with alternative, gothic rock, industrial, electronica, doom, and good old-fashioned crunchy heavy metal. The strong prominence of eerie and melodic synthesizer lines (courtesy of keyboardist Lorenzo “Il Diverso” Mastracci) transforms Nexus into a fun and unique metal/horror-movie soundtrack-like band.

Quickly: a word about the album title, The Taint. Now, I’m sure a language barrier is coming into play here; one should always recognize the inherent difficulty of singing in a non-native tongue and commend an artist’s efforts to do so. That said, the definition of that word as a noun in English is decidedly awkward, to say the least. To quote the great and immortal Indigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

Anyhow, the crux of the Nexus sound revolves around mid-tempo pacing, and Voicu’s crunchy, straightforward guitar riffs and clean, moderately-nasally vocals. But let us not diminish the importance of Mastracci’s innovative and atmospheric keyboard parts. His simple, minor melodies and techno-influenced synth tones help to elevate Nexus’ tunes to the level of quirky — and just a skosh creepy — horror rock. Bassist Tony Di Marzio, meanwhile, ably complements Mastracci’s beautifully-bloated (aka phat) synthesizer basslines.

As for the songs themselves, it’s very hard for anything on this album to top opening track, “Solitude.” This catchy gem opens with a pulsating synth bass and a Halloween-esque piano melody; it then allows its simple-yet-effective main riff and vocal hooks to ensnare the listener. That said, “Cancer,” with its poppy chorus, meaty guitar groove, and 8-bit sounding synth theme, comes really darn close. Mastracci’s melodic and ethereal synth lines take center stage on yet another catchy rocker, “Funeral Pyre.”

Nexus try a slightly different tack on the quasi-ballad, “Stillborn.” Here Voicu’s plaintive lead guitar melodies couple nicely with Mastracci’s ethereal and bouyant keyboard masterwork. “Scrying Mirror” features an industrial/dance hall sort of vibe and serves as a slight change of pace. For if there is an over-arching constructive criticism one could give ﹰNexus, it is this — adding more variation in the tempos, key signatures, and arrangements may make their future albums more engaging and enjoyable as a whole for the average hard rock/metal fan.

Regardless, Nexus have concocted an original and delicious musical recipe. Bon appetit. Visit Nexus on Facebook or on Youtube. –Jonathan Kollnot

–Tracklisting: 1.) Solitude 2.) Cancer 3.) Funeral Pyre 4.) Crimson Wine 5.) Stillborn 6.) N.B.N. 7.) Scrying Mirror 8.) To Close Your Eyes 9.) To Silence…Demons

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~ by jonnyboyrocker on March 21, 2018.

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