The resurgence of nu-metal is very much alive and kicking with the menacingly atmospheric sound of Bristol band NO:IR. The quintet fuse metal and emo with rap, hip-hop and dark pop influences in their reimagining of nu-metal, which they describe as “modern, unique and introspective.”
The band, formed of Sam ‘Evvi’ Davies (vocals), Jake (bass) and Sonny Gazzard (guitar), Alex Roberts (guitar) and George Farley (drums), have been working together musically for several years. Over the past year or so they began to cultivate something new, which emerged as NO:IR.
As Evvi explains: “NO:IR is an identity. It is a collection of our own individual personalities channelled into one unit. As a band we are more than individuals and it is almost a combination of various aspects of all of us.
“The best way to describe NO:IR is hip-hop meets metal. But our music is modern and innovative, as a band we want to push the boundaries of heavier music and we take influence from a very wide range of artists and genres.”
Our latest taste of this is Phantom, which was released earlier this month and, like seemingly every good new Bristol band, was recorded, mixed and mastered by Phoxjaw’s Josh Gallop. It opens up with a cool high-pitched guitar then a cry of “Are we really alive?” ushers in a huge low-tuned riff. The high-pitched opening guitar returns in an atmospheric opening verse that feeds into a big chorus “To be the phantom in the corner, To know the pain in disappointment, To care about the image when the artist isn’t honest, To find the glimmer in the ashes, To start the fire with only matches, We’re burning our burdens, We’re breaking in, taking it all.”
The chorus feeds into rapped vocals that increase in aggressiveness and end in really cool fast-paced vocals over stabbing guitars. That ends on a big scream and booming guitar chords under fast-paced vocals “We complain about the modern age but we need the views from computers.” That flows straight into another huge atmospheric chorus, which gives way to massive guitar chords under huge screamed vocals that bring the track to a heavy ending.
On the track, Evvi says: “Phantom is an evolution from our previous releases, it grows and develops on our past sound but brings in a lot of new elements. The track is heavier in places but also takes more influence from hip-hop tropes and uses a wider range of vocal styles and instrumentation.” Check it out in the video below:
Phantom is the latest of five singles from NO:IR, the previous of which was Placebo. It starts out slowly but soon explodes into a mass of screamed vocals, powerful chords and atmospheric guitars. The pace drops again with laid-back vocals and twinkling guitars, which build up to an explosion of intense vocals and driving guitar chords. Delicious low-tuned guitars come in alongside doomy cymbals, before huge screamed vocals, a cool guitar riff and stabbing chords bring it to an intense ending.
Erase:Me is a personal favourite, and offers more of a nod to the original nu-metal and post-hardcore era. It opens with cool synth sounds under Evvi’s laid-back vocals, which suddenly intensify alongside drawn-out guitars. A huge scream of “They won’t remember my name” drops into a cool little guitar riff that continues under rapped vocals. A piercing lick jumps in as the track flows into a big catchy chorus “Save me from my fucking demons, Erase me, Fight fire with fire, Burn it all the same, They won’t remember my name.”
A second chorus drops into laid-back vocals over keyboard sounds, which gradually builds up into a intense, dramatic final chorus led by Evvi’s powerful screamed vocals. This is absolutely huge, and you can give it a listen here:
That was preceded by their impressive debut single HIVE. It opens up with a darting guitar and creepy whispered vocals, which explodes into big catchy vocals and heavier guitars supported by guttural screams. That drops into rapped vocals that are joined by laid-back guitars before bursting into another huge chorus. The second chorus gives way to powerful screamed vocals answered by cool stabbing guitars, then a piercing guitar solo over driving guitar chords that flow into a final heavy chorus. Check it out in the video below:
NO:IR’s music was first inspired by the original nu-metal bands but has increasingly taken on an entity of its own. As Evvi explains: “When NO:IR first started I would have listed artists such as Linkin Park and Korn, but now I don’t really think that NO:IR takes as much influence from other artists.
“The themes we convey in our music are introspective and we build songs around a new synth tone or interesting guitar melody rather than other songs. But If I were to pick an artist who inspired me creatively at the moment it would be Stray From The Path and Clipping. We are inspired by our own personal challenges individually and as a singular body. Our music is pensive and follows themes of identity, anxiety and where we are in our own journey.”
We’re loving what we’ve heard from NO:IR so far, they’ve honed a really refreshing sound that beautifully fuses melody, multiple genres and full-on aggression. And the good news is there’s plenty more to come from the band, especially as venues begin to open up.
As Evvi tells us: “2021 is going to be a big year for NO:IR. Lockdown has been difficult but it has also given us time as a band to grow and evolve. The rest of this year is going to see new music, tours, merchandise and in essence a new chapter of our journey.”