“Présages” is the successor of the debut album “Les nouveau mondes” from the French band Nemo. The second album of a band is always an important one. If you don’t manage to produce a strong second album, the band in question will often be forgotten. Because of the fierce competition in the small progscene. Nemo can feel at ease because the album is strong and it rocks. In my opinion the music of Nemo shifts more towards progressive hardrock instead of Neo-prog.
Guillaume Fontaine – keyboards, vocals; Jean Pierre Louveton – guitars, vocals; Benoît Gaignon – bass; Jean Baptiste Itier – drums;Pascal Bertrand –percussion
When you have read my review of Nemo’s debut album you will know that I had two little “complaints” about this nice surprise out of France. The first one was that the booklet was only in the French. The band is still using their native French language for the vocals.. and that is in my opinion the best thing to keep the atmosphere in their music. As reviewer I had appreciated an English translation of the lyrics very much, simply and solely to understand the music/lyrics in a better way. But I understand that the translation is a difficult task and would also give extra costs because of a thicker booklet. The second remark in the review of “Les nouveau mondes” was about mixing the up-tempo and heavy parts of the rockier pieces and the more mellow parts to give the compositions a better balance and to get more unity in the album. And that is exactly what Jean Pierre Louveton and his mates have done. I must give the band a big compliment about this improvement.
The construction of the album however is more or less the same as their debut album. The album consists out of some “normal” tracks and two long suites. (“La mort du scorpion” [death of the scorpion] and “Les Nouvelles croisades” [the new crusades] (17:57) ). The openings track “La dernière vague” [the final wave] opens with tasteful piano but soon gets up-tempo with fast and heavy guitar work. Not my favorite music, but Nemo mixes this with more melodic parts and nice synth and guitar solos. But in overall this song about a second deluge after a climatic change is a rocky and hectic opener. The next track “Générateur” [generator] (4:42) is a short up-tempo rock piece with a catchy refrain. The setting of this omen is in a future where machines rule over humans. Those up-tempo pieces are almost too much for me, so the opening with the marimba of “Sur la tombe du phoenix” [grave of the phoenix] (9:53) is very welcome to me. The song is about the power of man to create or destroy life. This composition has more melodic parts and variation. But Nemo really rocks in this track with good drumwork of newcomer Jean Baptiste Itier, heavy guitar-work and orchestral keyboards. What follows are two long suites. The first one is called “La mort du scorpion” [the sun gets closer to earth] which is divided into three parts ( “Soleil” (1:15), “L’Deil du Cyclope” (5:57) and “La mort du scorpion” (7:42)). “L’Deil du Cyclope” has some nice piano and acoustic guitar which somehow reminds me of the work of CGT. But the highlight of this little suite is “La mort du scorpion” itself. A beautiful opening with delicate electric guitar. But slowly this piece transforms into a heavy prog monster. Sadly the track fades out when Jean Baptiste Itier plays some complex rhythms.
The big suite “Les nouvelles croisades” (17:57), a song about new and extreme religions, is the Magnus Opus of this album. It is divided into the parts: “Cavalerie”, “Confrontation”, “Désolation”, “Danse des morts” and “Renaissance”. “Confrontation” has some heavy surprises for you. The band shows all the power they have, and the ending is a little homage to Yes. It sounds like a part of “Close to the edge”. But don’t get misled here, Nemo is more a rockband with the power of bands like Dream Theater. But I don’t want to compare Nemo with other bands. After all this power, the band switches back to a little delicate intermezzo called “Désolation”. “Danse des morts” is again an up-tempo piece played with full power. The hidden track you must discover for yourself.
To be honest, Nemo surprised me a little bit to develop their unique style more towards the heavy side of progrock. This album has nothing to do with Neo-prog. It’s a consistent rock album with a lot of power. If you like the more rockier and heavy side of our music you must give this album a try. Little by little Nemo has found its own place in the scene.
[By the way, did you notice that if you put the letters of the word Nemo in a reversed order you will end up with the word Omen?]