Nero Doctrine - II - Interitus - (6.5/10)
Published on January 9, 2018
Of all the influences one hears when listening to music by new and upcoming bands, the Swedish scene seems to be among the most important. In the case of the debut album by Nero Doctrine from Germany, the band has clearly been listening to the melodeath scene – there is a fair bit of In Flames, Soilwork, but most importantly, Arch Enemy. To pull off an emulation of a scene that is occasionally frowned upon for being commercially pandering is not an easy task, and adding a personal flare to it is even tougher.
As stated, Nero Doctrine are heavily influenced by Arch Enemy, but while just as guitar-driven, they are arguably a touch heavier. The guitars keep themselves rather busy most of the time, and not just by showering the listener with plentiful melodic lines, but also in a fair amount of crunchier riffs. For instance, there is a thrashy section towards the end of “Doch die Lichter Sind Kalt”. That song also sports a fantastic solo – these guys are no slouch when it comes to putting the guitars at the forefront. That, in itself, is not a given. Sadly, the record sometimes suffers from the lack of memorable riffs or songwriting tricks. However, when they do appear, Nero Doctrine do not even sound like a debuting band, but more like seasoned veterans.
The longest song on here, “Face To The Ground” is actually quite dynamic, going from calmer acoustics to all-out metal sections. The short blazer “Plague” has likely the most memorable riff of the bunch, accentuating the song in a nifty way resembling “Eraser” by Hypocrisy. And there is also one hilarious moment when the band decide they had seen enough of Gothenburg and decide to go on a quick trip to New Orleans. I swear, you could cut out the towering ending of “Hope Is Just A Word” and paste it in a Crowbar song, nobody would bat an eye. These are the highlights, but the rest is still quite consistent, just not exactly memorable.
Yet, at no point along the 44 minutes of “II – Interitus” does the band come across as amateurish. However, there are a couple of things Nero Doctrine simply lack. First of all, it is a bit of drive, as well as a clear direction to the music. They can add an overt melodic hook, they can add some thrash and death metal influences, and they also can add some well-timed metalcore bits (… 10 years ago, I would never think I’d commend a metalcore influence. How times change), especially when it comes to drumming. Nero Doctrine, however, do not keep any of these approaches consistent. The second thing – the vocals are definitely not a highlight. Stefan Rengert, the band’s vocalist, mostly sticks to a higher-pitched metalcore-ish scream that becomes boring quite fast. There are some death growls here and there, which sound much better, though.
All in all, “II – Interitus” is quite an entertaining album. Bugged by a few mistakes, sure, but well-made and more than just promising. The backbone of the record is solid, the guitar playing is definitely worthwhile, and while the songwriting is hit-and-miss, the moments it hits are not that scarce. Solid start, and for all it’s worth, Nero Doctrine’s debut sounds much fresher than the last Arch Enemy album.