From San Francisco comes the dark and ambitiousNio, with their impressive and artistic self-titled EPaimed for the prog-rock jugular. Fans of Pelican, Cloudkicker and Russina Circles will no doubt find an instant connection to Nio’s beautifully dark sound.
It takes a certain type of listener to embrace any song that does not use a singer to help drive the message across. Progressive Rock, industrial instrumental, call it what you will, but this is the type of sound that has legions of loyal followers, and those followers are very demanding of their particular brand of sound. So it is important when a band opens with a track that they hook the listener immediately, and that is something Nio does very well. Opening with the track Summit, you instantly know that you are in for some emotionally charged sound. For some, they might consider Summit a bit bleak in its sound, but for me it is an inspirational track that feels like a true journey of the mind. It is hard to decide which instrument is the star player of the song, as the guitars are demanding, but the drums are methodical and crushing. The song just works, and as I mentioned before, a song needs to hook you, and this one definitely does.
Songs like Delta and The Wheel (Is that a Game Of Thrones reference?), are juggernauts of heavy and devious sound. Both songs feel as though they belong in a movie about the potential end of the world, or the start of a new one, either way they both showcase the skill in song writing that Nio possesses.
Grey Healer is a cross between Pelican and The Tea Party, instantly it became my favorite of the album. I turned this track up as loud as I could and I have to say, still not loud enough to do this song justice. The guitars are masterfully worked, and the drums as always, shine with every heavy hit you hear. If you are going to search a song out to listen to first, this is my pick for that track.
The final song Cave Dweller is less about kicking you in the rock nuts so to speak, and more about taking you on a journey through the aware mind. The song beautifully takes you through some impressive sonic peaks and valleys, and it doesn’t at any point lose that sense of direction.
The EP is simply awesome, and as a true fan of this genre of music I can say that Nio deserves to be here along with the best of them. Nio in their brief EP outshines many others with their full albums. Don’t hesitate to buy their album and support great artists, because music matters, and Nio is here to help prove that point.
Written By: Ryan Donnelly