NOW OR NEVER – Now Or Never (2013-2014)
NOW OR NEVER is a new international combo whose self titled debut album has just been released in Europe and Asia, and will be out on the streets in mid-January 2014 in North America via Mausoleum Records.
Now Or Never was founded last year by Danish guitarist Ricky Marx (ex-Pretty Maids) and Swiss drummer Fabian Ranzoni (ex-Sultan), joined by French vocalist Jo Amore (Nightmare) and Danish bass player Kenn Jackson (also a veteran ex-Pretty Maids member).
For me, a huge fan from the first hour, a band featuring Pretty Maids’ ex-members who recorded some of their best material sounded very intriguing.
Ricky Marx appeared on the killer Pretty Maids’ 1990 ‘Jump the Gun / Lethal Heroes’ album. Bassist Kenn Jackson played on every album from 1992’s ‘Sin-Decade’ through 2010’s ‘Pandemonium’, add to the mix Amore who arrives from a metal band, and I was expecting hard rock with an edge in storming fashion.
And the guys does not disappoint.
But Now Or Never goes even further; this album is truly one of the kind that succinctly fits the definition of ‘the modern evolution of hard rock / metal’ with absolutely filthy riffs punctuated with a very edgy performance by Jo Amore.
“Reach Out For The Sky” is a sensational opener, and the rollicking intro shows us exactly what we are to expect in the next fifty-plus minutes. Ricky Marx’s guitar riffs are thick, razor sharp but extremely clean and polished, Fabian Ranzoni thrashes the drums as if his life depends on it, whilst Kenn Jackson’s bass puts the finishing touches to a very talented group of musicians.
This is all brought upon the listener before we finally get to hear Jo Amore and his powerful vocals. One moment snarling, the other singing in high pitched melody, the man’s delivery is like a dangerous switchblade.
From track 01 I should remark the production on this record, handled by Patrick Liotard. Pat is an extraordinarily talented French musician who once fronted the terrific AOR band Sedona (Golden Valley CD) and lately become producer of hard / metal bands.
Liotard, without a doubt, is the key factor of Now Or Never’s original, modern hard rock metal attack. He not only has obtained here a refreshing sound for the band (and the genre), but also contributes with some really good tweaks and interesting sound effects.
Next, title track “Now Or Never” is pumped by a profound bass work and electronic sampling, and again the drums are a dominating force.
“Wind Of Freedom” is a brilliant modern metal song. The chorus is huge and melodic, and the drums and guitar riffs are more simplified, but maybe that is what makes this cut sound so good, and this is more likely to be the most accessible song for new listeners.
The blast continues with “Princess of Undiscovered Land” and “How Do You Feel?” which are built with the same quality standard of the aforementioned tracks, with a modernized sound ahead of its time. With a slight sci-fi feel, this material feels like what I would expect to hear played at a rock club in updated version of Bladerunner.
At the same time, the sum of all the members’ influences and past bands are preserved like cryogenics. “Something’s Missing” and the acoustically filled “An Angel By My Side” are heartfelt, powerful and melodic ballads, perfectly positioned on the latter half of the release, a ‘wind down’ if you will.
There are times where the ’90s ‘guitar choke’ gets a bit much, like on “Hardened Steel”, which starts off with an immaculate melody accented by some futuristic keyboard work, but it gets caught in the mud during the verses. However, the chorus resurrects the tune and kick ass. It’s an acquired taste, certainly not a new thing, especially when the entire band gets heavy right along with the guitar.
A better display of the technique is in “Who’s In The Mirror?” where the well placed pauses create a nice gap between the Pretty Maid-esque harsh rockin’ melody and the traditional metal influences.
“Now Or Never” is a great album, and a great new band called to be the evolution of Hard Rock into modern Metal Music.
Ricky Marx & Co. took the best of the Pretty Maids melodic foundation and added to the cocktail a bunch of bone-crushing filthy riffs, smashing drums and blade-like vocals, all wrapped by a fantastic production that always try to go ahead and be different to anything heard before.
And that’s what makes “Now Or Never” a mandatory listening. It’s heavier than I expected, but refreshing and provoking.
The musicianship is very becoming from the accumulation of talent from these veterans of the scene. Marx’s solos are a welcome treat, a dying art in these dark modern days of heaviness over style. Prior to hearing this album, I was unfamiliar with Ranzo’s work, but he proves to be a brilliant drummer, and the drum sound is perfect on this album.
Now Or Never seems to be the apt name for a band that deserves to make a name quickly and decisively, with never a dull moment and a modern, original take on hard rock and metal – the listener will get a healthy dose of each.
01. Reach Out For The Sky
02. Now Or Never
03. Wind Of Freedom
05. Hardened Steel
06. Princess Of Undiscovered Land
07. An Angel By My Side
08. How Do You Feel?
09. Dying For You
10. Who’s In The Mirror?
11. Something’s Missing
12. Weirdo Lullaby
Ricky Marx (ex-Pretty Maids) – guitar, keyboards
Kenn Jackson (ex-Pretty Maids) – bass
Jo Amore (Nightmare) – vocals
Fabian Ranzoni (ex-Sultan) – drums