REVIEW: Nero – Welcome Reality
By: Ben Norman
Who is Nero?
Nero is a band that has steadily been making themselves important to the dubstep, drum and bass, and electronic music scenes. With tracks that have had intriguing videos and some commercial remixes, Nero is a group to watch out for. On the highly ambitious album Welcome Reality, Nero provide 20 tracks of edge and aggression. Thanks to vocalist Alana Watson, some have a softer edge. Her voice has been a major draw to the group’s music and also one of the cornerstones of their success. So far, the group’s fourth single, “Promises,” is the must successful, debuting at #1 on the UK Singles Chart with remixes by Skrillex and Calvin Harris. Previous singles “Innocence,” “Me & You,” and “Guilt” also received remix attention but did not achieve the chart success of “Promises.” Subsequent single “Crush On You” is a dubstep rendition of The Jets’ classic. “Reaching Out,” Nero’s 6th single planned for a December 26th release date, prominently features male vocals instead of Watson’s.
A dubstep artist album..
If you’re not familiar with dubstep as a genre, head here for a more detailed explanation. Nero have tackled dubstep with a commercially-inclined approach. The singles are pop songs at heart, with heavy emphasis on song structure and catchy songwriting, while many of the other tracks are more geared toward immersing themselves fully in the dubstep genre. The pop approach is most firmly heard in “Promises,” with its energetic beats and strong lyrics, lending itself to the melodic Calvin Harris remix. Second single “Me & You” incorporates rock elements, giving the track a heavy stadium feel as Watson asks “Are you ready?” and responds, “Here we go!” Watson’s voice gives the track a vibe akin to The Sounds or perhaps even, in their darker-edged moments, The Veronicas. “Guilt” plays more like a dubstep remix of a vocal trance song, like if Tiesto went dubstep- Watson’s voice echoed to hell and back before the heavy drops.
If you like the singles, you will like the album
For the most part, Welcome Reality doesn’t shift far from what the singles have provided us. A little pop comes out, a lot of gloom goes in, but the result is relatively similar. It is dubstep, after all, and there’s something to be said for a genre that ups the bass and cuts half of the beats out of a song. The sense of dread and doom that is poured into every ounce of dubstep as a genre oozes from just about every track. When Watson isn’t singing, the drama of the music is far more noticeable, perhaps even pushed on us a little further. Take the incredibly oppressive “Angst” for a test drive and you’ll understand what I mean. It’s like someone killed Wolfgang Gartner’s dog and then told him to make music. The songcraft is there, but the vibe is totally ominous and far from passive.
The main thing to remember when going into Nero’s album is that you have to LOVE dubstep. If you don’t, or on the fence about the genre, this album will likely be very hard to get into. If you’ve come to enjoy any of the album’s singles, then you will likely stick to those and not stray too far. But give it time, and I think you’ll find some additional things to enjoy about Welcome Reality. There’s some really good production and songwriting here, not to be overlooked due to the gloomy mood of the genre. Still, “Promises” and “Me & You” appeal to me the most and are my choices as stand outs from the album.
Disclaimer: Review copy provided by the record label. Image courtesy of Cherrytree/Interscope record.