Merriam-Webster.com defines nebulous as not clear, difficult to see, understand, or describe, indistinct, or vague. This review defines Nebulous as a five piece experimental/progressive metal band from Portugal. Formed in 2012, their self-titled and self-funded debut was released through their Bandcamp web page on October 14, 2013. The definition of the word does not translate well into an expectation of a band’s music. Synonyms like imprecise, unformed, and muddled are definitely not something I would like to use to describe a band’s sound. Luckily in this case, I think the band was going more for the synonym of ill-defined when they decided on the name.
Not knowing much about the band or Portugal’s music scene, I checked out Nebulous’ Facebook page. They claim to be taking a different approach at the Portuguese metal scene by “engaging their sound with heavy tunings, ambient harmonies and polyrhythms full of groove.” With Moonspell being the most popular metal export from Portugal, it seems like a fairly accurate statement.
The aural picture that Nebulous creates reminds me a lot of “Silhouettes” era Textures. Victor (guitar), Pingas (guitar), Rui Silva (bass), and Marcelo Aires (drums) are a tight group. From the opening track you know Nebulous is not messing around. ‘Abnegation’ is short and to the point. Double kick and squealing guitars hit you first before they settle into a djenty bounce. There is only a short pause between it and the next track, ‘Dharma’, so I thought it was still the same song! The two songs have a similar groove so they flow right into one another.
There is a more noticeable break going into the next song, ‘Nausea’, and Nebulous picks the beat back up as well, but only in the beginning. ‘Hyperborea’ is the first real stand out track for me. On this track vocalist Snake (?!?) introduces us to his clean singing voice. He picks back up with his raspy scream after the opening chorus. I like the variation of the vocal on this song, too bad he doesn’t do it more throughout the album. The next four tracks pick up where ‘Nausea’ left off with more Meshuggah-like jams and closes with a short ambient outro, ’Contemplation’.
Only being 33 minutes long, Nebulous’ debut is a quick peek into what maybe a promising new entry to the already long list of math/djent /progressive bands. Much like another band I reviewed recently, High Hopes, for not being around very long; these guys seem to know their craft. If Nebulous continue to mature, we could have a strong player on our hands in the future.