One of the hardest things to do in life is to simply be who you are. From the day we’re born, everyone from our friends, family and even current Internet celebrities tell us how to dress, how to act, how to think and how to live. With the dominant rise of technology and the accessibility the media gives us to other people’s lives + opinions, our society is in a constant state of influence, forcing us to always compare ourselves, usually finding fault instead of acceptance. It’s easy to feel alone, to doubt yourself and feel unjust for the struggles + hardships you have to endure; to get lost in the negative aspects of life, wallow in anger + self-pity and see life as a burden. The hard part is to find the light in the times of darkness, however dim it may be.
Setting the bar high with their self-titled fourth full-length album, Nothing More shimmers with a profound and inspiring message that is not only revolutionary and will affect nearly everyone who listens but easily mirrors that very light we all need to survive in those dark times. With numerous standout songs, almost all being radio-friendly, the album shines as a whole with intelligent lyrics and an intense passion intertwined into every second. The many influences of this band are apparent, with sounds similar to Alice In Chains, Disturbed, Three Days Grace, S.O.A.D, The Prodigy, Rush, Megadeth, Coheed and Rage yet somehow their sound is incomparable and all their own.
The hypnotic opening sequence of the album exemplifies the stress + unhappiness we force upon ourselves on a daily basis, allowing fear + negativity to weigh us down, essentially leaving us drowning and gasping for air. “Ocean Floor” blends perfectly into the thundering drum + bass of the album’s explosive first single, “This Is The Time (Ballast)”, an extremely catchy, head banging song about letting go of whatever it is that holds you back, recognizing your own strength and finding your balance. Followed by an exquisite blend of electronic texture amongst heavy metal guitar riffs, the hard-hitting anthem of “Christ Copyright” sends a powerful message regarding religion’s role in our society; that “we are not machines” and as individuals, we need to learn to ask questions, to think for ourselves and not be faceless sheep in the herd but to indeed, have a voice.
Recurring themes of the pressure to conform are found throughout the record, as well as internal struggles with self-doubt + guilt. The sad, ugly truth of the media‘s influence on society and how it spawns robotic + materialistic shells of human beings is found in “Mr. MTV”. Tensions fly high through identifiable lyrics of always feeling judged and never being fully heard in songs like “First Punch” while the hostility found in “The Matthew Effect” is everything you’ve ever wanted to say to the spoiled + entitled hypocrites of the world. With an already clear focus of unleashing negative emotions, “I’ll Be OK” allows the album to switch gears, slow down + reveal a more emotional but not necessarily softer side of the band. Looking for forgiveness and needing to forgive, passionate, soul-crushing vocals that exude longing +hope are given the spotlight, escalating into a buildup so dynamic and strong, your breath will literally catch in your throat as this song speaks for all the times you’ve lacked faith in yourself, offering a reassurance that only music can bring.
The savage, jilted lover track “Sex and Lies”, graphically depicts the turbulence caused when cheating is involved. Words laced in anger, resentment + disbelief accommodate the energy of the pounding drums and raging guitars as the bass cuts through manically creating an all-around melee of fury. Evident in nearly every song on the album, this band is not afraid of being brutally honest, hitting on uncomfortable but easily relatable subjects, climactically shedding light when darkness seems ever enveloping. However, it’s the two extremely personal songs saved for the end of the album that truly demonstrates the ability of Nothing More to touch a nerve and move something inside of you.
We’ve all had that one friend or relative that, despite the love shown + the numerous chances given, fail to realize their own chaotic demise, continuing their vicious cycle until hitting rock bottom becomes the only solution. “Jenny” brings to life an all-too-familiar story, representing that one person we all know and how their actions affect everyone around them, bringing to light the undoubtedly harsh truth that we are usually too afraid to speak. Beginning with a simple guitar + soft vocals to set the stage for this epic wake-up call, what was once hope slowly changes into defeat before eventually exploding into full-blown exasperation, not only told through the lyrics but through the vitality of the music itself. Heavy disappointment shines through every syllable, with the chilling pleas for change hitting like a ton of bricks as the drums slam in perfect unison with the bass + guitar to match the intensity of having to walk away from someone until they see the error of their ways. The despair + agony felt when watching someone you love spiral out of control and self-destruct is enough suffering to bear but experiencing the loss of a parent at the same time takes the pain to an all new level.
Being one of the most moving pieces I’ve heard in years, the incredibly stirring “God Went North”, a song about the loss of a mother after battling cancer, easily defines why music exists and to say this song is beautiful may be an understatement. The soothing wind chimes and rolling thunder provide an atmosphere to the symbolic calm before the storm as the words begin to paint a profoundly realistic picture. Extraordinarily illustrating a life-changing moment of having to say goodbye to the person who created you, nearly every emotion felt during the grieving process is evident in the exquisite vocals that expose the heart + soul of this band. The drums slowly heighten as the story unfolds from numb disbelief to the heartbreaking request of “if you won’t save her, please just take her”, the guitar magnifying the turmoil + distress before soaring into an upward turn of accepting the finality of what ultimately must happen. With the mortality of our parents being inevitable, anguished-wrapped lyrics like “cutting the cord from the mother who gave me everything” are sure to touch even those who haven’t experienced such a loss, while providing a therapeutic consolation when the pain is all too real for those who have.
Transcending into wind + crashing waves, the thematic use of the five elements creates a unique musical experience, adding a special, intimate approach that is felt through the album as a whole. Even though we are individuals, we are all part of the same Earth; the growing and changing we go through in life is evident through water, healing + purifying us along the way. The drive + passion of fire that can both create and destroy, heal or harm is represented by the spark inside us all that Nothing More urges to keep ignited. Concluding with the electronically stimulating “Pyre” brings everything full circle, as the wind not only carries away the last breath of life but is the expansive freedom of departing our physical body, leaving the sky to embody everything we cannot comprehend with our minds and only truly embrace with our limitless spirit.
Flowing into one last food-for-thought piece featuring the intriguingly captivating words of philosopher Alan Watts, who is also heard in the guitar-layered instrumental track “Gyre”, the theories are not ones that you need to necessarily agree with to fully enjoy the nearly ten minute final track of the album. Instead of being forced down your throat, the ideas are designed to make you think, offering a tranquil reflection while stressing that “the real you, is not a puppet which life pushes around”, a message that has easily weaved its way through Nothing More, who emphasize the importance of keeping your inner fire blazing and embracing your individuality.
With lyrics that provoke and the concept of music as therapy restored, there is a song on this album for everyone; for anyone who has ever thought they weren’t good enough, who have been wronged or have done wrong, have lost someone they loved or who just need that little nudge of courage to just simply: be. Ranging from optimism to rage and melancholy, Nothing More will for sure pull many conflicting emotions from you, all while putting things into perspective + possibly providing solace while reminding that at the end of the day, we are not alone in the fact that we are all just trying to simply… be.
“Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal. For the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever.”