[Review] NEMOPHILA surprises with “ODYSSEY”, a throwback hair metal power ballad

An 80s-inspired hair metal power ballad was not a genre I was expecting NEMOPHILA to dip into, but maybe I should’ve considering their track record of incorporating multiple styles into their songs, which has led to them having one of the most fun and diverse discographies that can adapt to any mood I’m in. Their new single, “ODYSSEY“, was chosen as a campaign song for an anime movie called Eiga Oshiri Tantei: Saraba Itoshiki Aibo (Oshiri) Yo, and it’s also the third track with a music video released for their upcoming new album EVOLVE, which will be out on January 17th.

As cheesy as this genre is, I have a huge soft spot for these tracks. Everything from Mötley Crüe‘s “Home Sweet Home” to the Def Leppard‘s “Hysteria“, I’ll end up sneaking one in there amongst the death/thrash metal bangers. And NEMOPHILA is no stranger to ballads, as “LIFE” was their third original track they released three years ago. While that song focused on a heavy electronic synth for a more melodic track that was reminiscent of a J-rock sound, “ODYSSEY” goes for a distinctly Western hair metal style.

Opening with a melancholic piano verse, Mayu‘s somber raspy voice ushers us in as she sits on her throne; this is a new tone, a new feeling that we’re getting. As “LIFE” conveyed Mayu’s feelings on not giving up on the band and pushing forward for a very uplifting message, “ODYSSEY” conveys a different tone that’s set the moment Saki and the rest of the band join in with a pick slide into one of their most emotional choruses to date.

One key takeaway from this gem is the purpose and weight of each note. There’s no fluff, no wasted space or filler in the four minutes of this gut-punching ballad. Honestly, it’s a masterclass in guitar-playing, as each note feels like it’s holding the song up itself, yet doesn’t overpower the rest of the members. Hazuki and Saki continue to build up the tempo before dropping us back into that heavy melancholic chorus that makes me yearn for one more pass. Additionally, Hazuki’s beautiful guitar solo really expands on the emotional palette that fills this track.

I can’t but help but also mention Saki’s attire in the MV giving off heavy Yngwie Malmsteen vibes with that classical formal styling.

With the three songs released already, we have a classic thrash banger in “RISE“, a quirky fun 80s synth track with Night Flight“, and now a hair metal power ballad, showcasing NEMOPHILA as a versatile powerhouse. I never know what direction they’re going to go with the next, which is such a breath of fresh air from the tedium I feel with other groups right now.

Overall I can’t wait for their new album to see what other tracks are waiting for us to discover, as the group continue to push themselves further and further, and will start off 2024 with a highly anticipated release.

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