NEMESIS (TX) — False Reality (review)

NEMESIS (TX) — False Reality album cover Album · 2023 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
Sometimes a band does everything “wrong”, but does it so well this turn out just right. Take Nemesis for example.

First mistake – the name isn’t particularly original. A quick search online turned up no less than 97 metal bands using the word nemesis, or various versions of it, as the whole or part of the band’s name. So you narrow the search a little, to just the word nemesis on it’s own. That reduces it to 54 bands. This band is from the United States (down to 10), and plays thrash metal (six bands). To get a bit more geographically specific, narrow it down to the state of Texas, and you’re down to three bands called Nemesis. To get to the particular Nemesis in question here, you need to make the search as specific as the thrash metal band from Houston, Texas called Nemesis.

Next mistake – the band plays thrash metal. Current wisdom seems to be that thrash metal bands need to follow the patented Municipal Waste method of revival thrash. Play crossover thrash, fuck about and don’t take yourself too seriously, and make your music all about partying and getting wasted. Nemesis don’t do this. Listening to the band’s debut album “False Reality”, what they do is sharp, tight thrash metal which tackles weighty social and political issues. Instead of the D.R.I./Gang Green/Suicidal Tendencies worship of a lot of newer thrash bands, you have to dig a little deeper of influences and references. The seriousness of the subject matter wouldn’t be out of place on a 1980s record from Kreator or Megadeth or Sacred Reich.

And despite all this, “False Reality” will be one of the best thrash metal albums you are going to hear in a very long time, because this band has done the most fundamental things exactly right. First, they have mastered their instruments and their musical style. Second, the band members are a complete unit, focused and razor sharp. There’s not a weak link here, and the band members are so tight you couldn’t slip a credit card between them. Third, they are writing actual songs. Where a lot of modern thrash falls down is in just lumping a whole lot of riffs together and calling them a song. Nemesis have written their songs with a sense of purpose and cohesion, focusing on developing a song rather than just slapping it together and seeing what happens. Take second track “Captive Hell” as an example. It starts with a slowed version of the main riff, establishing it as the theme for the song. As the song progresses, more and more layers are added, like drum fills, vocal melodies, secondary riffs, and solos. The main theme is revisited several times during the song, and it all ties back together into a memorable, catchy song which would be the envy of many a big-name thrash metal band.

As for Nemesis’s overall sound, Megadeth comes to mind again, but there’s more depth than that. There’s a more than a passing similarity to French Canadian thrash legends Soothsayer – intentional or not, it’s not a direct copy and it’s refreshing to hear those seemingly forgotten sounds being explored once again. There’s also hints of Blind Illusion, a bit of Holy Terror, and maybe a splash of Testament. This is all wrapped up in clear but crushing 2020s record production which cures many of the production ills of old-school thrash. The guitar tones are distorted because they are meant to be, and not because the sound engineer had no clue about metal. The drums are sharp and crisp, and don’t sound like they are filled with mud. Vocalist Nick Broussard’s voice is clear and melodic, and skirts that perfect boundary between shout and sing.

While the whole of “False Reality” is truly impressive, there are a few stand-out tracks – take note of album opener “Slave of Mistakes”, and the singles “Aggressor” and “Escape”.

Nemesis has done nothing particularly new here, which is often seen as a recipe for mediocrity but everything the band has done is absolutely bang-on perfect. “False Reality” kicks against conventional wisdom, but it’s done with conviction and sincerity so it works. It’s a trip down memory lane any jaded old thrasher for a 40-minute trip back in time, but it may also be an indicator to the future. More please, Nemesis!
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