24 September 2015

Profondo Rosso - Next Stop Neurosis

It is a strange journey on this blog at times, if I am honest.  In August I put up a review about an album entitled 'To Live, & Die, In The UK' (cleverly linked here) and I was putting it up as a fan boy piece - an album that I loved from my youth, but was not expecting much more to come of it.  But the band picked up the review after I posted it on their Facebook page and got back in touch, they were very complimentary about the review and the blog, but they also point out that there was a second album released in 1997........WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS!!!!!  Ahem.....anyway I have since purchased the album which I am reviewing now.  The record is called 'Next Stop Neurosis' and was recorded at Impulse Studio in North Tyneside (sadly no longer there) and the album was released in 1997 on Neat Records - both of which were based down the road from where I live (it is a small world at times).  Now with all follow ups, you can sometimes worry if they will reach the same level as one that you hold dear to you heart; especially if you missed the sequel when it came out album 18 years ago.  It is something I never thought I would be doing, but let’s see how the second Profondo Rosso album has turned out.....

With a strange guitar effect “Trinity” introduces the album to the listener, the drums and bass come in slowly and then the guitar goes into that familiar tone which comes from their previous album.  It goes into a five minute indie punk song that sounds likes the band have moved on slightly from ‘To Live…’ but without changed the style; it is more moody and darker, with punk chorus’ that catch the imagination.  At the point when it was recorded, the musical world had changed and in the mix is some grunge qualities in the middle bridge of the song.  The chorus sounds fantastic as the band spend the most part of the song sounding menacing and the chorus seems to be a release the oppressive nature of the number.  It is an interesting number to open the album on, which ends on a haunted guitar tone repeating to a fade.  “So Famous” comes out with a fire in its soul, the lyrics of being alone, famous and a clown are filled with a level of poison that is available for all to see.  The improvement to their sound is on show here, they were no longer Northern branch of the Manic Street Preachers – this song is stupidly good, even all these years since it was originally released.  Full of venom, bouncing at its own pace and not giving a fuck; what is there not to like?  “Sad Sketches” follows on and it does what a mixtape should do according to the book High Fidelity.  The first two songs are always strong, then the third takes it down a notch as you do not want to fill the first half of a mixtape (or album in this instance) with all the killer songs on the release.  This song does that, it is a decent number, but it does not hold up next to “Trinity” or “So Famous”.  For some reason, the pace of the number does not match the chorus (what is it with these guys and chorus, they always seem to nail it for me); it never reaches a natural plateau for me, so it is just an ok song.  It is not bad by any means, just not one for me; although I like the solo in the middle. 

Track four “Institution of Revolution” brings things back up to speed for me, with a ball of energy that takes the album and gives it another song which I am so glad to be hearing after all these years.  It has a quality riff, the bass & drums sound brilliant, the chorus is a gem, a clear and concise solo and the ending has my head bouncing along; a lost indie punk gem here – really worth checking out ASAP.  The halfway point is reached with “Skintflick” that starts with the bass leading the charge as the guitar slowly unleashes chords, before they are ultimately joined by the drums and we are in for another slow burner of a number.  Much like “Trinity” it takes its time to sink in (at least it did for me); so from the first listen of – yeah that is alright – it slowly but sure becomes a corner stone of the album, it does keep on giving with more listens and it is not a throw away song.  With a rock ‘n’ roll feeling to the beginning, “Colliseo” is introduced to the world with feedback and a hook bassline that grabs your attention from the beginning of the song.  It feels like it is straining at the leash in places to explode, that it is going to explode and (as always) the chorus is when the song sounds unleashed. Well I say chorus, it feels like it has two of them (I know one part is the bridge, but seriously – two choruses in my mind).  This middle section of the album is heavily loaded with top draw tunes from the Rosso and this is another example of what they did best.

“Reptile” is the seventh song on this album and it is a bit of a mix bag to these ears, it is full or energy but slow, it explodes but feels still; basically it is very reptilian if we are honest, you don’t know when it is going to change.  I cannot really make up my mind on it, something is not sitting right when it should be (aka Clutch syndrome – when you should like something, but it is not there for you).  It is a number to will probably improve for me in years to come, at the moment it is just a decent number that does not quite it the spot for me.  “Narcotic Angel” sounds huge from the opening note, it is a tale about the dangers of a lifestyle on hard drugs and for once the chorus is not the start of the show; the verse sound like they are on fire and heading towards the nearest resting point, the chorus sound a bit dreamy (probably to reflect be a drug induced state of mind/being).  But the song itself is really good, it is the perfect length for an indie pop anthem and is only beat by “Institution of Revolution” to track of the album.   The penultimate track is called “Blue Holocaust” and song is a reflective beast.  The imagery which reeks of isolation, cold and despair is hard to hear as it sounds painful in placed; the music is a mirror to these words and sound just as cold whilst being played perfectly.  Towards the end of the song sounds as if the passion and anger of the song is being released and then they have a pause before starting again with the riff and solo towards a fade.  It is a strange number, there is more to it than meets the eye.  Ending the album is “My Last Act” which has a vocal only start defying the world and stating that this is the last act – a song about suicide and the finality of that situation.  Ending this album with that number makes sense, the title alone would have done that for me to be honest.  But the song feels like it is the ending of sorts and the desperation of the lyrics is displayed for all to see on another indie punk song that should have been a spring board to the next album. 

The band sounded as if they had matured into their own sound at this point, the influences have been used and now they are making song that are their own – they had become more than a Sunderland based acts who were heavily influenced by the Manic Street Preachers.  With this album, they had took the experiences of ‘To Live…’ and ran with in to create a new set of songs that should have been the next step forward to something else.  Sadly, this was not the case and it is a slight tragedy that events conspired against them for this to be the final album.   Now as you naturally do, you do compare it to other works by the same band; it is a natural thing to do and whilst I had some many years living with ‘To Live….’, it just feels unfair to do this to an album I have only had for a few weeks.  But it is something that people naturally do as humans, this is no different.  At this point, I would say 'To Live...' edges this album for me.  But I have lived with that album for so long and it is ingrained into my head, whilst I on purchased this one a few weeks ago and I am still getting used to it.  It might turn out to surpass it in a few years, but only time will tell on that one.  That change to the sound (even though it is a subtle one) is the most intriguing thing for this album and at the moment I am wondering what would have come next.  It is a great follow up to their first record which I love already, after this I will just have to probably review the live recording in a month or so as well.  At the time of writing, they are going to be playing Octobeerfest at the Point in Sunderland on 17 October 2015 and I would recommend you go and see what the fuss is all about.  Up the Rosso!!!!!

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart
Top track - Institution of Revolution

You can purchase a copy of Next Stop Neurosis on Amazon here 

You can follow their activities on Facebook here

You can also follow them on Reverbnation here

All of Profonodo Rosso's previous releases are on Soundcloud - including this album (and as well as a live recording from 1994)

You cannot stream this album on Spotify, etc - but you can hear songs from this album on their Reverbnation page - or just purchase the album

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