Nex

A Clockwork Heart

Written by: PP on 30/09/2008 15:30:57

A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to Nex in the form of a reissue of their self-titled debut album from a couple of years ago, which I found to be quite decent post-hardcore in the vein of Lostprophets with some Incubus references tucked in between the lines. The album's significance was that it demonstrated a band just about ready to jump onto third gear, and if they could improve from songs like "Schadenfreue" and "Fading" - both already excellent post-hardcore songs - and find their own trademark sound, we could have the next Lostprophets in our hands. Sadly, that isn't the case on their sophomore album "A Clockwork Heart" which contains all the signs of a band being way too ambitious at a too early point in their career - pretty much the definition of a sophomore slump.

The Incubus/Lostprophets references have largely been dropped. Vocalist Ed no longer sounds like a clone of Ian Watkins, and instrumentally they have gone into a much heavier and more aggressive direction. There's more screaming and yelling on the album, often at the cost of the extended vocal harmonies that made the debut album so enjoyable, which don't really ever lead anywhere. It's as if the majority of the songs lack focus and direction. Whether it's in the choruses, verses or the overall sound, it's hard to pinpoint, but one thing's for sure: the songs are boring.

On a couple of songs, the band attempts to add some dramatic flair through the inclusion of orchestra instruments. For example, the strings in "The Lucky Ones" try to place a spotlight on Ed's bouncy vocals, but it all sounds so hollow and forced. I've never been a fan of bands trying to sound bigger than they are, and a song like "Phantoms" shows exactly why. It has undeniably been inspired by Chiodos' "Bone Palace Ballet", but it never reaches a similar majestic feel despite the violins and echoing guitars. The end result is the listener coming out of the song empty handed, wondering what could've happened if the delivery was a bit tighter and the choruses more memorable. And at least on one song, "Before The Storm", the band almost succeeds. Think of this song as the "Uncle S.A.M" from their debut album, a fast track that sounds nothing like the others on the album. But even here, the band falls short of what's expected of them.

Basically Nex attempted to create their own identity on "A Clockwork Heart" instead of relying on the Lostprophets/Incubus copycatting. In the process, however, their songs have become painfully average. Yes, Nex sounds like Nex now, but that's not what I wanted from their new album. Since Lostprophets sound completely different than back in the day, there's nothing wrong in filling the void that many of us have been wishing for someone to do...lets hope Nex realizes that too.

5

Download: Tinkerbell, The Revenge, Before The Storm
For the fans of: Lostprophets
Listen: Myspace

Release date 26.09.2008
Rising Records

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