A time to rock.
“A Clockwork Heart”, the sophomore album from Huddersfield quintet Nex, is a lesson in operatic, sweeping metal tinged melodies. They manage to pitch things just right and make what could come across as pompous and self indulgent in to a raucous, uplifting and fun experience; the album opener ‘In Pieces’ sets you up nicely for where things are headed, with a dainty, melancholy twinkling piano that breaks suddenly into ‘The Revenge’ a fearsome four minute metal riffed, scream fest with a catchy chorus and an interesting combination of vocals; screams, death metal growls and crooning mixed with punk gang choruses and some OTT glam touches.
Impossibly, Nex’s mash up of punk, metal and (almost) stadium rock makes for a heady ride. You expect it to all fall apart at times and become messy, but they never get overly ambitious and their unmistakeable enthusiasm and some excellent tunes really pull it all together. It all comes together on tracks like ‘The Lucky Ones’ with a brilliant hummable main riff, emotive strings and a rumbling bass line all pulled together by Mike Patton-esque vocals from Ed Dickinson. The front man is far from a Patton impersonator though; his approach is eclectic and impressive, veering from guttural growls to tuneful melody in the same breath.
Many of the tunes here really rock out like the anthemic ‘Tinkerbell’ which is intense, hook laden and really shows off Ed’s vocal range, but an injection of synth means that the heavy moments are balanced by danceable and addictive melodies. Some tracks, see ‘Witch Hunting’ as a case in point, (which reminded me a bit of a heavier Lost Prophets), have a slight goth edge in the bass lines but without being cheesy.
“A Clockwork Heart” is an impressive record, catchy and heavy but never predictable • sure it may have nods to Faith No More and occasionally bands like Every Time I Die or even Avenged Sevenfold spring to mind, especially on tracks like the epic and sweeping yet frenzied ‘Phantoms’(possibly the best tune on the record), but there is a lot here that’s really, really good and they definitely have a sound all their own, full of heavy riffs, operatic crescendos and sing along vocals that makes for a really enjoyable and satisfying listening experience.