Geoff Tate of Queensryche, ©2003 Joe del Tufo, Studio M
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, ©2003 Joe del Tufo, Studio M
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Nova Express NeBeLNeST
"Nova Express" (2002)
[Cuneiform Records]

Every so often a band arrives on the scene that generates a lot of buzz. NeBeLNeST is one of those bands. Formed in 1997 they recorded and released their first album in 1998 and soon after performed to rave reviews at ProgDay in North Carolina. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Critics loved NeBeLNeST.

The band performed live quite a number of times throughout 2000 and the first part of 2001 before heading back into the studio in June to lay down some new material. Bob Drake recognized for his work with 5uu’s and Thinking Plague produced this second release entitled “NoVa eXPReSS”. So how does it sound? Never having heard the band’s first CD and not knowing what to expect, I have to say I’m very impressed!

As some of you already know NeBeLNeST inhabit a musical world similar to Djam Karet with a style loaded with busy, serious, dark, almost industrial sounds. But at the same time there are many passages of striking beauty. The five tracks ranging in length from five minutes to over fifteen contain musical segments of discord and dissonance that are punctuated by lovely, but haunting solo moments.

Music can be sometimes difficult to describe, but see if this works. You start out with a rhythm section immediately rolling along at a busily good tempo to the sound of dissonant piano chords banged out angrily while the guitar wails away on a series of minor notes. It all works away for a few minutes until it comes together wonderfully with everyone playing in a kind of unison before charging off in a completely new direction again. In fact each piece tends to start from a bold, brief melodic structure then splits into individual efforts that come back to a loose theme. It’s quite striking how NeBeLNeST make it sound so cohesive.

Interestingly they incorporate a Mellotron on three of the tracks, but it’s used to convey an almost angry choir like the choral arrangement in the Phantom Menace during the Jedi fight. There are other times where a certain psychedelic sound is heard. My ears perked up at one point during the title track when suddenly it seemed I was listening to early spacey Pink Floyd. In fact my ears would love to hear NeBeLNeST develop that spacey, melodic aspect more fully on future releases. The “resolution” it provides to their musical “expectation” is very satisfying.

NeBeLNeST are like four people playing in their own worlds – like planets orbiting in the solar system which is something beautiful in itself, but then every once in a while the planets align and synchronize their orbits and it becomes truly majestic. These guys can really play. They know their instruments well and are confident in stretching their skill set. “NoVa eXPReSS” I’m sure will be welcomed with open arms by old and new fans alike.

Review by Jerry Lucky
February 06, 2002