Until My Heart Stops is the latest offering from the Nottingham based hard rock band NG26. Released April 26th 2015, it builds on their previous releases with their customary swaggering, soulful style reminiscent of Alter Bridge and Soundgarden. They reinvigorated the Nottingham and Derby metal scene mid-2007 and have since released three albums. Their guitarist Rich Shaw is also a full-time member of Cradle of Filth.
Throughout NG26’s releases their tight musicianship is highly evident, yet tastefully applied; they temper blistering guitar solos with artful fingerpicking and atmospheric gothic melodies dropping into groove-laden riffage. Their sound is best described as varied, with moments that swerve toward gothic melodic beauty and others that excel in a doomy groove-driven brutality. This is a band that delegates well and knows how to sense that delicate moment when the bass, guitar or vocals should take centre stage. This is an album with greater depth and far more to offer than you might initially think.
Track one, ‘Never Enough’ has a kick-ass pounding intro that, for me at least, the rest of the song just doesn’t live up to and it gives way to a fairly weak chorus. Sadly this becomes a bit of a theme. As an intro to the album it serves well enough, it just doesn’t stand up too well on its own. The tracks I kept replaying were ‘Afterlife’, with its clearly Mastodon-influenced drumming, ‘Little Indiscretions’, a hard-hitting edgy track featuring brutal drum hits and much more aggressive vocals, and ‘Out of My Life’, which is probably my favourite song on the album, featuring scorching bluesy riffs and a fantastically catchy melodic chorus. The last track however, is a ballad. I will say this for it though, despite my general hatred of ballads everywhere, it grew on me. It gave an otherwise fairly linear album greater variation and really showcased Chris Topley’s quality vocals.
The production of the album overall is great, with clear, precise recording with mostly good balancing. One minor gripe for me is that the vocals were at times a bit too prominent. The lyrical content is pretty good, edgy, angry and heartfelt, it melds well with the melodies, riffs and general tone of the album. The album cover however, is very similar to Type O Negative’s 2003 Life is Killing Me cover, making it less distinctive than it might be.
Though the album has some great, original riffs going on, I can’t help but feel that too often a song bursts into a room then steadily forgets what it’s doing there. The chorus, bridges and endings just don’t match up in vitality and aggression. Whilst there’s nothing I would describe as filler, some of the songs just require more focus and consistency.
To sum up the album in a sentence I’d have to go with: Promising but misses the mark ever so slightly. It just doesn’t have the potential and out-of-the-box thinking of their first album, but it’s a definite growth on their style in their second album, a low point in their discography for me. As much as they have developed and come to gel together as a band, I can’t help but feel that they have continued to move steadily away from promising traits seen clearly in their first and second albums, mainly; Nu-Metal style rap vocals, and classic doomy groove riffs. You can still see them to some degree, but they’re fading, not sharpening. On the other hand, their general song-writing has come together a lot when directly compared to their earlier albums. Overall Until My Heart Stops is an important chapter in the development of NG26 as a band and a thoroughly enjoyable hard rock album.
Review: Liam Wells
1) Never Enough
2) Daylight Breaks
3) Save It For Me
4) Barely Breathe
6) Cease Fire
7) Out Of My Life
8) Little Indiscretions
9) You Sold Me Lies
10) Song For Mozaz