Reigning from Andorra, a country located between France and Spain, comes a very special band. A band that will forever hold special place in my musical heart and bearing the honor of being the first band I ever felt the need to review. A band whose debut album left me deeply impressed, even mesmerized. A band that goes by the name of Nami.
Nami is a Progressive Metal band taking heavy influence from bands like Opeth and The Ocean, but even flavors of Pink Floyd can be heard in their sound. They released their debut album, listening to the name ”Fragile Alignments” back in 2011 and despite its flaws, it’s still the best album that year had to offer. Now, two years later the band is back with their sophomore attempt called “The Eternal Light of the Unconscious Mind”. Is their special blend of progressive metal starting to show cracks in its foundation? Or did the so called sophomore slump ruin yet another album? Or did the band release an album that’s just bigger and better than everything they’ve done before?
“Always searching for answers, but the mind, defeated by noise”
Back when “Fragile Alignments” was released, Nami was a young band that was searching for a sound of their own. Their debut album had them defining the borders and boundaries of this sound, it had the band tinker around with certain influences and blend them together to create something similar in the vein of Opeth (especially in the vocal department) and The Ocean. “Fragile Alignments” was a Progressive Metal album which showed certain Post-metal/atmospheric tendencies, heavily inspired by a certain concept. It was a wonderful album, but one that sadly drew a bit too many comparisons to the bands it borrowed from. Nami learned from this however and embarked on a journey, sailing same wide opens oceans of the Progressive Metal genre. But this time, going far beyond their original horizon, the band ventured into a far more experimental part of this massive ocean. And now come back bearing the fruits of this journey, having learned quite a lot of new trick the band is back with “The Eternal Light of the Unconscious Mind”. An album with a far more explicit nature, one that still unmistakably sounds like their earlier effort. But also allows the band to truly find a niche of their own.
The biggest change happened on the most familiar grounds, the song-writing aspect. Nami still places song-writing above anything else in their music, still realizing it’s the strongest part of their music. The change however is the concept they write about and the changes to songwriting this brings. “Fragile Alignments” brought us an album that was based around the four great elements of Fire, Earth, Wind and Water. A well-defined concept that made some clear boundaries of what was possible and what was not. And with a hefty amount of song-writing the band was capable of translating these four elements perfectly into a musical setting. But now times have changed and with “The Eternal Light of the Unconscious Mind” the band has decided to take a more personal and less-straight forward path. This time the concept focuses on the advancement of dreams through our conscious and unconscious states.
And no one better to explain why they picked this subject, than vocalist Roger Andreu;
“We wanted to become our own storytellers and each one of these songs is based on a dream that one of us had. We really wanted to open up to everyone about what we were thinking, our fears, our wishes, our regrets. We knew that the only way we could grow was to be more personal and I think we accomplished that with this record.”
Bold words, but an interesting concept. One that perfectly intertwines with their new-found emphasis on experimentation. Various collaborations added a lot more depths to the album; a couple of saxophone solos, an added emphasis on keyboards, vocal collaborations from Loïc Rossetti (The Ocean), Marc Martins (Persefone) and Santi Casas (Mordigans) and even a guitar solo from Carlos Lozano (Persefone) and on top of this, the addition of female vocals. The vocals range from Andreu himself, one of the few complaints from “Fragile Alignments” has also taken massive leaps forward. And this are but a couple of surprises this new album has to offer.
The new concept also opened up a lot of new options on the song-writing aspect. Gone are the clearly defines boundaries the elements have to offer, the unconscious mind doesn’t suffer from boundaries, the possibilities are nearly endless. Giving the band a lot more ideas to work with and incorporate into their music.
Yet, for everything great this new concept has brought the band, it also brought a new shadow side and set of demons with it. Taken a look at the album covers of both albums summarizes this problem perfectly. “Fragile Alignments” cover has a lush color palette, everything has its own place and a defined border separating it from the rest of the cover, symbolizing the unique personality of each and every song and the imagination of which they are written. “The Eternal Light of the Unconscious Mind” has a darker, deeper cover. One that symbolizes the inner beauty of the album and shows that everything works together, everything is part of a single grander scheme. Yet, it all blends together, the songs don’t have their own personality, nor do they vary as much as they could have had. Eventually turning the biggest strength of their debut and the novelty of their sophomore attempt into their biggest weakness.
Either way, the band should be applauded for creating another great album, one that still isn’t perfect. But shows they are ready to work on their flaws and eventually create a masterpiece that’s flawless on every aspect. It also shows a band thinking more and more out of the box, while still not losing who they are. As a whole it might not be as good as their debut “Fragile Alignments” and it might still have its own share of demons, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an album to be heard by any fan of Progressive metal. So fulfill this bands sole request and listen closely, you might be impressed yet again.
The album’s available at their official store!
Written by: Simon Bogaerts – November 5th, 2013