ALBUM REVIEW: Nothing More – Spirits
Mid-October saw the return of the three-time Grammy-nominated rock band Nothing More with their latest album, Spirits. Their return sees Jonny Hawkins (vocals), Mark Vollelunga (guitar, backing vocals), Daniel Oliver (bass) and Ben Anderson (drums) reunite to retell their realities over the past few years of lockdown. With themes of societal desperation, world turmoil, self-actualisation and mental health, there is a lot to unpack on this album.
A running technique across Spirits is how Nothing More structures their instruments on an alt-metal/rock album. In a genre that loves distortion, we can hear each and every layer. Some of the songs contain catchy hooks, and all lyrics have some introspective and philosophical thoughts behind them.
The album’s tracklist is well thought out. Hawkins ensures there is a balance between blood-pumping, angst-filled lyrics of Turn It Up Like (Stand In The Fire) to the darker undertones of Deja Vu, as he brilliantly captures the societal moments we all lived through during the pandemic.
For those who love heavier rock/borderline metal, Tired of Winning will give you your fix. Starting out with a heavy guitar riff, some synth and a blend of unclean and clean vocals, this song knows how to please instrumentally. Hawkins is skilled with his lyrics. As a wordsmith, he knows how to melodically match the tone of the song and take things up a notch when the chorus hits.
You Don’t Know What Love Means was one that not only shows off the beautiful vocals, but both bass and lead guitar, working in complete harmony, give this gorgeous rhythm that almost carries the song through the stages of what feels like emotions.
We cannot forget to mention the impeccable drumming of Anderson. He really shines on Deja Vu. Adding to the dark lyricism of Hawkins, Anderson keeps the beat similar to the heart and adds the little ‘skip’ of the heart with the addition of cymbals and high-hat to match the contents of the lyrics. It’s quite simple but effective in mimicking our bodies response to how we feel when we have deja vu. Anderson is masterful in supporting the rest of the band in creating the physical sensations on this track, as they explore the bounds of what music can be.
Ending on the title-track Spirits, there is no better track for them to do so. It literally lifts your spirit. Hawkins demonstrates his vocal range and just how versatile singing softly or powerfully can give meaning to words. For example, “Silence in the heart/ Sickness in the brain” is haunting, yet the self-realisation you can hear within his voice illustrates hope. We may never meet Hawkins, but we feel the sincerity of the want to change and believe there is hope because of the emotions behind his words.
Whilst the album is ambitious and we can hear the evolution of Nothing More, there were only a few really strong songs on this album. But like every great band out there, experimenting is the way to embrace music. It may not be at the same level as their 2017 album, The Story We Tell Ourselves, but the growth this band has undertaken in creating Spirits alludes to greater things to come on their next album.
Standout Tracks: You Don’t Know What Love Means and Don’t Look Back
For Fans Of: Parkway Drive, Starset and Fight the Fade
Written by: Jo Lisney