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Neronia - 2014 - "Limnotapes"

(48:09, ‘Neronia’)


1.  Darkland Intro 2:53
2.  Sleep My Child 6:14
3.  Only Sometimes 5:14
4.  Clouds of Tears 3:36
5.  Journeys End 6:18
6.  Go This Way 6:05
7.  Watching TV 4:12
8.  Marching On 5:24
9.  Another Year 6:17
10. Open Space 1:56


Falk Ullmann – vocals 
Ruediger Zaczyk – guitars 
Michael Stein – keyboards 
Lutz Beberweil – bass 
Dirk Hartel – drums 

Prolusion. The German band NERONIA can trace its roots back to the ‘90s, and a band at that time called Ulysses, which released its debut album "Neronia" in 1993. When they were forced to change band name they opted to go for Neronia, and released their first album under this new name in 2003. Self-released in 2014, "Limnotapes" is the third album they have made following their change of moniker.

Analysis. Neronia's take on progressive rock is one that resides within the more accessible parts of the progressive rock universe. This isn't a band overly fond of dissonances, twisted instrumental sounds or of expanding the boundaries of music as we know it. Instead, compelling melodies, easy-to-catch developments and harmony based contrasts are the name of the game for this band, all explored within the confines many would describe as neo progressive rock. A particular feature of this band, especially in the early phase of this album. is the use of futuristic, dark, dystopian sounds, and later on also darker toned, subtle undercurrents by way of keyboards or electronic effects. One of those small details that add interest to an album, although in this case an effect that is used only on the first half or so of this production. Still, it merits a mention, as this sets the tone of what is to come in an effective manner, and it is something of a surprise to hear the first few seconds of a more typical plucked guitar and floating keyboards arrangement that unfolds in the latter stages of the opening instrumental atmospheric creation. From then on this CD follow some fairly predictable patterns, with gentler movements sporting plucked or toned down guitar details and careful floating or surging keyboards start alternating with more intense ones, driven by chugging metal riffs of a darker note, at times bordering on metal in tone and intensity. These are the main contrasting arrangements explored, with plenty of intermissions, interludes and occasionally full sequences as well created somewhere along the line of those two extremes, with occasional atmospheric runs here and there added for good measure. The guitars are generally toned down in intensity, but will provide some firm, harder edged and compact riff constructions in addition to the grittier, darker toned expression, and playful keyboards and effects are just as common as careful hovering and fluctuating textures. Neronia is good at using these differences in expression to maintain tension, with sparse tension filled arrangements just as common as sparse delicate ones, and while the guitar driven passages may well be both rich and powerful, they will at times be also toned down in intensity to create a somewhat more unpredictable expression, and while not starkly original, they do make a few choices of this kind that makes this a more vibrant experience, and more compelling too, as far as I'm concerned. Elegant is a word that comes to mind, alongside well-developed. If you should point out any flaws on this album, I guess some might say that the songs may be a bit too smooth and too accessible. This will, obviously, be a matter of subjective taste. Personally I found this album to function very well within its chosen turf, but I can easily understand while those fond of progressive rock of a more expressive and daring nature may not see the charms of this production. To some extent the lead vocals my not be to everyone's taste either, in this case because the singer has a voice of a less typical nature: well controlled and appropriate for the music, but with a voice not readily comparable to anyone else I can recall at this point.

Conclusion. Neronia's third album "Limnotapes" comes across as a well developed and fairly sophisticated creation of music within a neo progressive context, developed and executed with some care to emphasize the accessible elements, yet without loosing track of key elements needed to make this progressive rock rather than melodic rock. I'd suggest that those equally fond of bands like Marillion, Pendragon and Sylvan might be a key audience for this production, and suspect the greater majority of them should find this CD to merit an inspection.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 7, 2015
The Rating Room

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