Album: Nemesis Pt. 2 – EP
Technicality and progression in music is quintessential to a degree—many men and women thrive on shred and speed, just as they hunger for spacey, atmospheric elements that fill the voids between vicious grooves and breakdowns. However, there will always be a time and a place for brute force: heaviness for the sake of heaviness and nothing else. With their debut, Nemesis Pt. I, Baltimore-based brutalizers Nemesis established that as their purpose—a figurative point-blank shotgun blast to the listener’s chest. With their follow-up release, things are similar but not quite the same. Nemesis are still heavy—more than able to hold their own against veteran downtempo acts like Traitors or Bodysnatcher—but, as the Pt. 2 part of the name might imply, the group have certainly adapted and matured their sound as well. The result? A band still bountiful with paralyzing brutality—but with more to offer the listener as well, evident in the EP’s speedier (by comparison) portions, vocal ingenuity and more comprehensive, fluid songwriting.
Nemesis Pt. 2 steamrolls the listener like the Hulk driving an 18-wheeler. Nemesis spread fury and brute force aggression across five lengthy, lurid songs—each offering a distinct improvement over the hum-drum nature of their debut. “Villainous” and “Reanimate” see percussionist Frank Rosati running amok—dominating with slow, sludgy patterns aplenty, but also including sparse segments of speedy blast beats and dizzying fills into the mix. “Villainous” is especially guilty of this—as Rosati uses rambunctious fills to transition from back-breaking heaviness to ruthless, punchy portions without fail. Tracks like the more lurid and low, slow Dynamo “Born to Rot” or “A Haunting Note” see Rosati reverting to Nemesis’ more traditional downtempo deathcore mindset—working excellently with bassist Alex Roberts to provide a bombastic low end. Where Rosati hardly needs the help, Roberts adds even more depth to every filthy smack of his kick drum and flam on his snare—giving breakdowns like the climactic one in “A Haunting Note” even more dissonance and girth than it would otherwise boast. Where bass and percussion traditionally comprise the “low” end of a mix, it would be a blatant lie to call Eron Heath’s fretwork anything but grimy, grisly, densely packed devastation. Where Pt. 1 saw Heath’s fretwork as—frankly—boring, Pt. 2 sees him spicing things up enough to keep the listener hungry for more. “Reanimate” and “Villainous” see Heath speeding things up a touch, adding low-strung grooves and riffs in among his melting pot of chugs. Meanwhile, “Traumatized” and “A Haunting Note” sees Heath experimenting with eerie, haunting leads—channeling the layered style of bands like Bodysnatcher and The Acacia Strain.
Where Nemesis Pt. 1 featured talented (albeit monotonous) vocals to complement the boundless aggression presented on the record, Pt. 2 once more sees Nemesis expanding—in this instance, at the hands and voice of frontman Jesse Merlino. Merlino—accompanied by In Dying Arms’ Orion Stephens and Terror District’s Alex Fidler—is back with improved flow and patterning to partner with his expanded range. From the first syllables of “Reanimate,” Merlino’s voice is heftier and thicker, with piercing screeches placed here and there to provide tasteful contrast. Merlino’s expertise continues throughout “Villainous,” where his voice tapers excellently into a star-studded guest appearance from Stephens. Two tracks into the release, Merlino alone has given a more variety and intensity than was present throughout the entirety of their debut. Where Nemesis’ lyrical content ranges from the introspective and personal to the grisly and gory, Merlino’s vocals are a constant, oppressive tour-de-force that showcase not just an enormous improvement over his previous work, but a competitive voice in deathcore’s talent packed community.
Even with moments of groove and eerie, high-fretted aggression, Nemesis Pt. 2 remains an album that bludgeons the listener into a battered heap of bones and mush for shits and giggles. Fans of heavy music looking for more than belligerent bitterness will likely find themselves worn out after a listen. However, as downtempo deathcore goes, Pt. 2 has more variety than most, and enough heaviness to sink a battleship and then some. Those looking for a crowd-killing anthem-of-the-month will get more than their money’s worth out of the band’s sophomore release—and the subsequent hospital bills to boot.
For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, Traitors, The Acacia Strain, REX
By: Connor Welsh