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Review: Nothing More – ‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves’

Nothing MoreWe constantly hear that in order to capture someone’s attention today, songs need to be shorter. They need to get to the money shot quick, or the listener will skip onto another track or, heaven forbid, another artist. “Music is disposable”, how often is that uttered? Ed Sheeran proved the way that people listened to music has changed drastically by having all 16 tracks from his last album charting in the top 20 at the same time. Spotify, YouTube etc give music fans the platform to skip to another track if the first one doesn’t grab them immediately. The album is dead? If so, then someone forgot to tell Nothing More, as the American quartet have blown that idea out of the water with latest album, ‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves’. Start to finish, it’s an album that needs to be consumed all at once. It’s lengthy, so make time for it. When ‘Go To War’ was released early as a single, the natural thought was that it dealt with the state of the world today. Listen to it within the framework of the album, and it becomes obvious that it in fact deals with a relationship breaking down. “I don’t know what you had in mind, but here we stand on opposing sides, let’s go to war, we arm ourselves with the wrongs we’ve done, name them off one by one, let’s go to war”. Lyrics most of us can identify with, and a track that takes on new meaning once you hear it the way that the artist intended, as part of an album.

Easily one of the most explosive live acts around today, Nothing More have taken their time with this album. By my watch, three years have elapsed since they released the re-issue of their stunning, eponymous album, which brought the Texans to a lot of people’s attention. Supporting Halestorm on their largest UK tour to date also helped. ‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves’ is a mammoth undertaking for the listener. What begins as raw, cynical, and heartbreaking, with ‘Do You Really Want It’, ‘Let ‘Em Burn’ and ‘Ripping Me Apart’ ends on a hopeful, optimistic note with ‘Who We Are’ and ‘Tunnels’ (which talks of shedding skin and transforming). Comparisons with Trent Reznor’s masterpiece ‘The Downward Spiral’ can be made, but not so much with the music (although the likes of ‘Do You Really Want It’, ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘The Great Divorce’ share some of the same explosiveness of Nine Inch Nails), but the overall feel of the album does echo some of Reznor’s work. The 18 tracks on the album feature a handful of short instrumental interludes that help expand the narrative, and give the album a cinematic feel. Some feature loops of what seems like audio clips from movies where talk is of rage and destruction, others are dark, brooding preludes to the following song. ‘Accept; Disconnect’ bleeding into ‘Who We Are’ is one of the standout moments on the album, and a great example of light and shade. The heartbreak and anger displayed during the early stages of the album gradually fade as the album reaches its climax. ‘Tunnels’ talks about strength and taking chances, before vocalist Jonny Hawkins utters “I’m not going out like this”. Closing track ‘Fade In/Fade Out’ is the perfect way to end the album, with its massive string arrangements on a soaring, emotional six minutes that could be described as a metalized version of Cat Stevens’ tearjerker ‘Father And Son’. As cheesy as that may sound, trust me, it works.

‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves’ is a modern day piece of art. One of those albums to throw in the face of naysayers who moan that all metal/hard rock sounds the same and no-one is different. How much did I enjoy it? After living with the review stream for a few weeks, I went out and bought the physical copy on the day of release. Can’t say nothing more (sic) than that really.  

Available now on Better Noise Records, Nothing More tour the UK and Europe later this year. All dates here

Review: Dave Stott

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