Music Reviews

Mar 19 2015
Artist: N3VOA (@)
Title: Solitude
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
N3VOA is Brazilian born Diego Bittencourt transplanted to New York where he became the drummer for Death Metal band, Deathrune. While surrounded and fully immersed in Deathrune, Diego developed an aptitude for creating riffs on guitars. Parallel to his Death Metal project, he nurtured a love for synthesizers and electronic music. Hence, his N3VOA project, and the debut album, 'Solitude'. Apparently Diego learned his lessons in the dark electro vein well, from bands like Depeche Mode to Leaether Strip to Neuroactive to Front Line Assembly to Wumpscut, and Skinny Puppy. If 'Solitude' sounds a bit old school, he has the aforementioned to thank. Synths and sequencers abound, and a lot of it sounds awfully familiar, more in form than in content. With a Death Metal band background, of course much of it has a nihilistic flavor. However, the album begins rather gothy, with some reflective piano over synth string pads, but this doesn't last long before the heavy dark electro kicks in. Title track "Solitude" has those nasty, raspy vocals you're not likely to comprehend without the lyric sheet - "I cry myself to sleep, With your ashes next to me, Recalling memories through my head, Like you are there, you've never left. Living in disbelief, why death exists? Indignant, bitter and disturbed, How does God have such a nerve?" The music and arrangement sounds as if it comes from a seasoned veteran, and not just a dabbler in this style of electronic music. And of course, the drum programming is spot on; could one expect less from a professional drummer?

Diego also has his sampled and electronic atmospherics down as well. "Punishment" continues in the rasp vocal vein, adding more malevolence lyrically - "I will hammer the screw I nailed to your spine, Watching you bleed, Until you die." Maybe I've gotten used to the vocals by this time, maybe a different type of processing was used on the voice, but I'm beginning to understand the vocals without need of the lyric sheet. There's a changeup in the vocal processing on the third track, "Deceiver"; less harsh as the somewhat poppy music calls for, yet the lyrics aren't what I'd call happy - "Look at yourself through my eyes, Understand the hate that multiplies". And so it goes with the rest of the album- changes in vocal processing (and to some degree, style) to suit the musical material. It makes for nice variety, but at the expense of a definitive identity. Lyrically, it is mostly in the same nihilistic mode. Truth be told, Jonas Bittencourt (Diego's brother I assume) is as much to credit or blame for this, as he's given lyric credit on every track, except the instrumental, and one written by (other brother) Dimitri Bittencourt.

While some bands in this style compose chiefly for the dancefloor, N3VOA caters to the brooding listener. Not to say that there aren't danceable track on 'Solitude'; instrumental "Stare Down the Ghosts" is an excellent one, even if it lacks a bit of personality. There are others too, to some degree, such as "Still Standing", and Neuroactive's remix of "Solitude", a pretty good remix in my estimation, but by far and large 'Solitude' is negative mind candy, torn between angst, anger and something akin to hope; hoping things will improve but knowing they probably won't. The album is dedicated to Diego's father Getulio, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 58. I don't know the circumstances of his death but it must have been a hard parting. Perhaps 'Solitude' is an exorcism of those emotions. (It will be interesting to hear what's next for N3VOA.) Diego has poured his heart out and bared his soul in 'Solitude', and also spared no expense in the tri-fold digipak and 16 page booklet with great graphics by Franklin Nunez. The album was co-produced by N3VOA and Jarkko Tuohimaa of Neuroactive, and mixed and mastered by the latter as well, attesting to why it sounds so professional. I've heard a lot of so-so dark electro bands from out of New York (or thereabouts) in my time, but N3VOA rises above and is definitely one to watch.

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