After having some time to marinate with NEMOPHILA‘s newest album, EVOLVE, I find that I can’t stop diving back in. K-pop releases since its release have served as a quick palette cleanser of sorts, but I keep coming back to the addictive chorus in “AMA-TE-RAS” or that catchy djent like riff in “Hammer Down“. NEMOPHILA have delivered another addictive album spanning multiple sub genres of metal.
EVOLVE is the band’s third studio album, consisting of 10 tracks that have enough variety to feel like it was a compilation album spanning a band’s entire career of genre changes. However, this is just their versatile style on display, constantly giving us different genres to grove with and thrash to. Though we’ve seen four of these tracks already on their YouTube channel and another already being a staple live song (that I can’t wait to experience someday), the other unreleased songs are easily my favorite of the entire album.
Two of them, “OSKR” and “Hammer Down”, are by far my favorite tracks on the album, followed by the lovely 80s synth track in “Night Flight“. However, if I had to pick one song that embodies this album it’d easily be “AMA-TE-RAS”. It shows off NEMOPHILA’s fun and energetic nature effectively, with its beautiful melodic opening instantly shifting gears as Mayu starts with her iconic screams that lead into a very cute and addicting chorus. Once you start to think you know where the song will go, Haruguchi-san’s tapping riff on bass hums along in the background, and we enter a heavy breakdown. Suddenly, all the melodic harmonies and singing is replaced with Mayu’s screams and guitars thundering along until we’ve gone from grooving around like Ace Ventura in Cannibal Corpse‘s “Hammer Smashed Face” video to headbanging like a Shadow Of Intent show. Mayu is busy rapping off lines as the band rises up, only to crescendo back into that cute, addictive chorus. “AMA-TE-RAS” is an effective showcase of NEMOPHILA’s ‘yurufuwa’ (soft and fluffy) charm at full force.
Meanwhile, “Hammer Down” was the biggest surprise for me, from the djent style guitar riffs to the fast melodic chorus, it was a sound I didn’t know I wanted from the band and something I haven’t stopped trying to learn since. “OSKR” is another that I think is instantly going to be a classic, showcasing fast and hard, classic NEMOPHILA heavy metal. In your face, but while still having a fun energetic vibe to it. Nothing overbearing, just the perfect mosh banger to throw out in the middle of the set to keep the crowd active. And that’s the other major takeaway from this album: every song feels perfect in length. The longest is the final song at almost four and half minutes, but I think they really nailed something special with this album, as there’s no bloat.
NEMOPHILA easily clear the bar again on EVOLVE, starting off the year with an extraordinary album. The band continues to thrive and grow, putting out new music that is always scratching my J-metal itch while still making their fun covers of their own favorite tracks on their YouTube channel. I hope to see them tour abroad more in 2024, not just in the US but worldwide, so they can continue to share this ‘yurufuwa’ cross metalcore sound that has made them a must-listen band for the past three years.