You know that scene from Pulp Fiction where Travolta plunges the hypodermic of pure adrenaline directly into Uma Thurman’s heart and she jerks dramatically back to the living? The first full-length CD from Britain’s Nemhain is the aural equivalent of that one scene.
If you’re looking for an album to quietly start the day while you sip your coffee and ease into things, this isn’t it. Rather, if you’re trading shots with your friends or getting ready to head out on the town for a night of modest debauchery, than this is just the ticket.
Nemhain, for the uninitiated, is the band started by former At the Gates/Cradle of Filth drummer Adrian Erlandsson. Adrian has collaborated with his wife Amber and a bunch of their cronies for this outfit which is as much a social outing as it is a career move. Lisa Dickinson came on board and other friends shifted in an out of the band. The lineup currently stands at Adrian (drums), Amber (vocals), Lisa (bass), Lakis K (guitar) and back for his second go-round with the group, Sam Astley (guitars) (although Sam rejoined after this recording).
The band released a four-track demo a few years back and spent the next little while writing and securing a record deal before putting out their first full-length From the Ashes earlier this year.
From the Ashes is dirty, sweaty, smelly and generally rowdy, the way all great rock should be played. There are twelve tracks of unfettered hard rock, propelled by an energy akin to flipping the cap on a shaken Coke bottle. Musically, most of the tracks don’t stray too far from each other, all forming a comfortable kinship, yet neither are they cookie cutouts since most retain an identity all their own.
Lyrically, the band seems to prefer the cover of darkness to the harsh rays of sunlight. If we can take the lyrics literally, Amber writes about incest, drug addiction, murder and worse, along with the usual preoccupations of rockers; sex, drinking and carousing.
My favorite songs remain the ones from the original demo as, to these ears, they are the strongest of the bunch, although the rest are no slouches either. “Heroin Child” highjacks your ears like a prison break and Amber is at her most compelling here. While no one would confuse her with say, Tarja, her vocals are honest, convincing and much more palatable.
“Speed Queen” is an infectious, galloping thrill ride that you just have to play to your device’s max abilities. “Girls Like Honey” is a wickedly engaging cut that starts off slowly but kicks into a nasty stride with its gritty chorus. A tasty guitar solo is the icing on the cake.
“From the Ashes” opens the record in grand style with Lakis’ guitar leading the way and Adrian slamming the kit. “Dirty Weekend” makes your head do that thing that all good rock does, right from the first note. The stark “Clear My Eyes” delivers a somber mood and the charged up cover of The Gits “Second Skin” sets the blood racing. The Haunted’s Pete Dolving makes an appearance on this song.
“Mr. Bronson” is a solid riff-ready piece of work, if not a curious subject, lyrically speaking and “The Filth and the Fury” hammers through your speakers like a herd of buffalo in heat.
This is an interesting band considering that for two of the members, this is the first real band they’ve been in. The playing is spot on and the songs are pretty tight considering there is a real street value to them. I predict the next few records will demonstrate the realizing of a sizeable potential for Nemhain.
In the meantime, when you’re trying to rid your head of all the smog that fills it during the day (warbling from bozos at work, American Idol, radio in general), From the Ashes is the perfect antidote. Play it often and most importantly; play it LOUD!