Nomad Scorpio – Victims & Vandals – EP Review
THAT…is one hell of a first impression. A debut EP from Nomad Scorpio, on a brand-new label called Stereo Era Records, run by Matt Byron, whom you’ve seen here on our shows & pages in the past – I mean…that’s a lot of NEWNESS going on, yet the moment you fire up “Breathe You In,” I can guarantee any fears your ears might have about the rookie-factor here will instantly be put to rest. You want to make an impact? You do it like THIS. LISTEN to the art of the reveal at work here people! Listen to the craft in the structure and how “Breathe You In” brings itself to a full boil by the first thirty-seconds – because that’s straight-up exceptional; every ticking second builds the intensity and possessed energy of this first song more & more. Once you get that first real smack of distorted CRUNCH from the added guitars…it’s like, good game folks – you’re going to be in for one hell of a ride to victory with this EP. Will Nomad Scorpio get comparisons to Nine Inch Nails with “Breathe You In?” Of course. They’re going to come in by the truckload and rightly so; from the rabid catchiness and storming sounds ripping through the mix to the piano-laced breakdowns to the vocal tones & even stylistic approach – there are multiple justifiable comparisons to be made. With the gripping bite of those guitars being closer to the savage edge you’d find in a band like Ministry as well – there’s no doubt that the heavy industrial & metal-mayhem scenes have been a massive inspiration to Nomad Scorpio, and this one-man project helmed by Nicholas Anthony wears this skin like a perfect fit – this is what you’d call more of a good thing. Lyrically, I’m not entirely in love with it, but that’s a rule that’s true in just about 75% or more of Trent’s words too if I sit & think about it…and when you hear the adherence to the slick pace & style you’d find in NIN being employed here, even though you’ll see a few of these lines coming at you, you gotta admire the spot-on way that Nomad Scorpio has taken on this sound and pulled it off enormously. Props to the Wizard Of OZ behind the curtain as well, Byron’s done a wicked job on this first impression of Nomad Scorpio – the production, combined with the killer structure and bold instrumentation from Anthony & the whispered menace in his voice all have this EP starting off with brilliantly controlled & brutally powerful sounds that will grab you by the ears and shake your brain outside of your head. What I really love about “Breathe You In” is the sheer & stunning amount of hooks you’ll find…because they’re everywhere; not traditional sing-alongs by any stretch – I mean, you could…but I’m talking about the texture and sonic explosions in the music surrounding you…if you dig assembly, composition, production, musicianship, creativity & killer sound – what wouldn’t you notice here? “Breathe You In” starts this EP with everything you could want & more; it’s the first impression you always hope to make.
The debate will be over whether or not Nomad Scorpio and Stereo Era Records went & mixed that mother to be the single…because I’ll say this – I think a great job has been done on the overall sound, but I do find just a slightly noticeable difference between “Breathe You In” and the other five songs on the EP. “Counter Attack” goes for a more tinny/treble-up vibe that the enveloping sound of “Breathe You In,” and dialing it back in that direction from the low-end at the very beginning can make an impact on how people will perceive what they hear. It’s not until around the third-minute that you hear that low-end make more of an appearance, which is purposeful, and clearly a part of what’s chosen to form the sound of this cut over the length of its structure. And again, if I’m not entirely mistaken, this would be a similar approach to what you’d find in a lot of Ministry’s music, KMFDM, My Life In The Thrill Kill Kult…bands from that mid-90’s era that slayed speakers and conquered festivals all around the globe, as underground as they still seemed to remain much in comparison to what was happening in the mainstream. In the background, there was a whole legion of rabid fans chewing the meat of new sounds in Metal and Industrial, and eventually the morphing & marriage between the two. “Counter Attack” has that same adventurous nature and depth of sound, revealed throughout its structure cleverly; ultimately, I think you get a great mix of a couple worlds on this one cut. The furious guitar riffage is straight-up awesome for one…the surrounding electro-synth elements completely heighten the sense of intensity and tension…the storming pace of the song is great and I dig that the vocals are set a bit more into the mix of this one; I dig what Nicholas brings to the mic, but I think it serves the music more to have him dialed back a bit further like he is here on “Counter Attack.” That being said, it’s a bit tougher to catch each and every word of his ranting & raving at the mic…so there’s a bit of a trade-off that occurs, but certainly inside of a song well-worth repeating to go back & catch what you might have missed. For me personally, as much as I loved the menacing grip that those guitars hold you with, it was all about the breakdown for me here in that third-minute…that was a really powerful transition into a much more chilled-out vibe in a song/place where you wouldn’t really expect it…definitely effective.
“Decade Of Rain” is tougher to examine for sure. There are some great things happening here, and probably a bit of wandering as well. Where the wandering occurs is in the variation on the vocal tones from Nicholas; but it becomes six or one half-dozen of the other. I could sit here and cite a hundred examples of similar sounds in the Post-Punk era that have vocalists that drifted in between vibrant & flat tones – so do you go after Anthony for being able to smooth that out, because you know he’s capable? Or do you again applaud him for creating something that’s very true to a certain style? You know what I’m saying? I’m looking at you Morrissey fans, Cure fans, Joy Division fans, The Smiths, etc. etc. – you know exactly what I’m talking about…there’s that drained lethargy in the energy that’s required to pull it off, but at the same time, it makes controlling those tones in that lower-register damn near impossible to predict at times. So collectively, there’s a lot to be digested from comments like these – if everything I’ve mentioned has been done on purpose, then thumbs-up to a job well done that captures that desolate Post-Punk joylessness perfectly in this slow-crawler of a song. If it’s not – if those things weren’t discussed…then that’s another issue entirely – that’s a combination of an artist that might need to be more objective and a producer that would then also need to theoretically lay down the law at times and have that dialogue encouraging another run through or two. I have no knowledge as to which of these scenarios “Decade Of Rain” technically falls into…I suspect there’s more of a stylistic attempt being made as the sound transitions on Victims & Vandals at this point of the record, so I’m willing to go with the Post-Punk theories I’ve got. That being said of course, I know it’s a style of music that personally appeals to me – though I’ll fully admit I almost have no idea why that is in terms of what I generally look for in more melodically-inclined singers…just something about the realness in the emotion of that genre that I’ll always identify with more than any other. It’s such an expressive form of music that those notes from Morrissey, Robert Smith, or even Nicholas Anthony here that wander a bit further from the mark than you want, somehow morph into valid emotional experiences that genuinely reflect the true feelings of what you hear in the sound, style, and lyricism. Not polished – but real. There’s absolutely a place for that in music if you ask me, always has been, always will be – and certainly on my playlists here at the studio; I think “Decade Of Rain” moves slowly and it’s got a few things I might have made the decision to smooth out a bit more maybe…but at the end of the day, it’s subtly gripping too and really creeps over you, like a shadow that continually gets larger as it swallows the light. Lots of atmosphere, great ideas in the synth melodies & keys in the background, solid drums that are inventive as well; I have no illusions about the fact that this song will have to battle harder for attention than either of the opening two cuts so far – but I think this song also speaks to a more poetic set of lyrics and perhaps even deeper set of feelings still bleeding & raw AF…but somehow more personal and revealing.
I think everything about “Give It All” is as deadly as it gets. We cool? Okay then, moving on…
…right. Like I’m gonna let a badass track like this slide right by without at least ten exclamation points or votes of confidence here in writing – you know me people. THIS TRACK! I think Nicholas responds to what’s probably his toughest performance on “Decade Of Rain” with arguably his best one right after – “Give It All” is right on the money from beginning to end. I mean, by the time you’re even ten seconds in, this track just sells you on the vibe from the wild combination of dynamic synths and gripping rhythm. From there, things just continually get better with frequencies in the background jamming along, synth violins, a solid & epic sound to the beat – and again, what to me sounds like a completely inspired performance from Anthony on the mic, which gave this track seriously deadly charisma and character. In terms of universally accessible sound, if it’s not “Breathe You In,” then I’d definitely be looking at this as a single…in many ways, I’d probably like this as the ultimate choice even more as I think you get more identity from Nomad Scorpio on “Give It All” than you do from the opening tune. But no doubt single-worthy – the groove on “Give It All” is savagely addictive in all the right ways. Massively impressed with the sound selection on this cut…there’s seriously so much for the ears to grab onto that you’re bound to have multiple incarnations of ‘that’s my favorite moment’ along the way – but by the end, just face facts – this is YOUR jam every bit as much as it is mine – “Give It All” is a slick, sexy beast of a tune and a twisted, confident stroll through the sounds that Nomad Scorpio crushes with. Can’t say enough about Nicholas on the mic here on this cut, I think each part he’s written and his approach to each section of the vocals on “Give It All” show just how much he’s feelin’ this badass jam.
The main music hooks & synth sounds of “Faster Than Light,” the record’s shortest cut at less-than three-minutes in total, come out strong – I don’t think those can be denied by listeners. As a song on the whole…”Faster Than Light” might shift between almost too much space within its short timeframe – what you’ll latch onto, you’ll love…as for the rest, it’s kind of a build-up and wait scenario where you’re looking forward to this cut’s most amped-up moments like around the 30 second & 1:45 mark where the music just explodes perfectly. Even the build-up of the instrumental section in the final minute of this song is entirely engaging, just because the music in this track is so wildly full of colorful sound. The loud/quiet dynamics that shift this song along as it plays work well in my opinion; I could understand if people got a bit shifty during this track because it does end up covering a lot of ground and I think there’s honestly a massive difference between the impact of the verse versus chorus. All that being said – is there still more than enough to warrant a huge turning UP of “Faster Than Light” overall? Please. Of course there is. Nomad Scorpio and Stereo Era Records have got this track jammin’ from the lefts to the rights, background layers to the lead up front; the flow overall might roll a bit closer to that of a square wheel as it grinds through each gear – but those moments where this song goes BIG are way more than memorable.
“Lonely Ones” takes you deep into a mix of Tribal-meets-Industrial sound, dragging you down into the depths of the murk, enhanced by the gnarly sound of the vocals from Nicholas in another noteworthy performance where you can hear that real commitment & focus on the style he’s seeking out. I mean, at the VERY least, you gotta dig that super bold synth vibe coming right for ya loud & proud. I think the drum sounds of this cut come out fantastic, great rhythm to the hits that adds excellent depth to the dark vibes that rule throughout this final track. Lyrically, I’ve still got my ups/downs & things I dig more than others – my best advice for Nomad Scorpio is to ditch Trent’s tendency to find that rhyming word and make sure that what’s being said is really what Nicholas wants to say…you can take the melody & vocal flow with ya wherever you wanna go with it all, but sometimes those rhyming words matching up along the way can come across as a stylistic choice as opposed to saying something more real than that. Not saying something real isn’t being said – that might very well be the case; it’s something to consider going forward is all…maybe there’s another way to go about it and get in something that represents what he’ll want to say even more – heck, maybe it doesn’t even rhyme at all…there’s plenty of artists/bands that go that route too. Point is, experiment with it…there’s still lots of time & room for a project like Nomad Scorpio to grow – and much similar to Trent as well, I’m sure he’ll look back on the early days and wish he did this or that or could have way-back-when…but that’s evolution, baby. And there certainly ain’t nothing wrong with having somewhere to go with your music – it’s when you don’t that you should be most concerned. Nomad Scorpio’s on completely solid ground and ready to shake yours from underneath your feet – I really dig what I’ve heard here on Victims & Vandals and feel like there’s every reason to believe that things will continue to evolve rapidly from here. As far as a pairing between a new production partner and project are concerned on a debut – you really can’t ask for much more than what you’ll find here – the record shines with spectacularly devious ideas sounds.
Listen to Victims & Vandals by Nomad Scorpio at Bandcamp here: https://nomadscorpio1.bandcamp.com
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