Nemesis Alpha is a one man band; that alone is impressive, before you add in the fact that Rudy Leal is also serving in the U.S Army AND currently on deployment whilst you read this!
The debut album Nemesis Alpha showcases the passion and love of music that Rudy Leal has, as these songs have been written not only before, but during his deployments. Not only does Leal lay down all the instruments himself on this 58 minute masterpiece containing fourteen tracks, but he was also able to enlist the vocal talent of none other than Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid (Soilwork/The Night Flight Orchestra)!
Opening track ‘The Alpha Rises’ is loud and in your face from the start; the rhythm that the guitar and drums had this reviewer headbanging in no time! It is a super catchy combination that leads the way perfectly for Strid to start spitting the lyrics at you with the ferociousness that he is well known for; however Strid doesn’t take long to also showcase his melodic talents as well. The hyper-speed of the drums make for a perfect backing to support the snarl of Strid, before a guitar led/drum closing breakdown shows just how talented Leal is. ‘The Alpha Rises’ is the perfect way for Nemesis Alpha to warn the listener to strap themselves in for the ride ahead.
The opening distorted guitar on ‘Shattered’ lets you know exactly what sort of track to expect; it’s going to be very grungy, raw and in your face! The cleaner guitar highlights are a perfect opposite to the heavy pounding on the drums, Strid’s stripped back vocals and the previously mentioned bass, before the guitar takes control of the song and harmonizes perfectly with Strid’s cleaner vocals. There’s a perfect harmonization of dual vocals throughout the chorus, which is just the cherry on top of this slightly over five minute gem; the guitar solo that takes places at the 3:35 mark is something that you must hear to truly appreciate, as no words could do it justice!
‘The Monster In Me’ starts out very light and melodic on guitar, before Strid lets out a spoken yell that shows off the capacity of his lungs, holding it for multiple seconds before breaking into the lyrics. The chorus is even more light and upbeat, the lyrics hitting hard and close to home for this reviewer, as I’m sure it will do for many of those who listen to it! Just another example of the talent that Leal has to show the world when he isn’t out defending his country, paired with the vocals of Strid to make it shine. and tie it all together perfectly.
Jumping out of the gates like a rabid dog behind a fence, ‘Shadow World’ is a complete change of pace to ‘The Monster In Me’; the guitar and drums layer perfectly together as they build up for Strid to let out those demons inside. The chorus is a nice mixture of harmony ending with that all too familiar snarl of Strid; overall this song is of a very fast and frantic pace, with the melodic chorus adding the slight break in serge that those in the mosh will greatly appreciate! That first slight break that the mosh pit receives doesn’t last long though, as the breakdown that comes before the breath catching outro comes at you harder and faster than experienced before.
‘Obscurity’ starts with a nice fast ticking guitar, before the drums and vocals kick in to assault your ears once more; the vocals are spat with such venom that you’ll need a towel or something similar to wipe the spit off your face! “Whisper your last decision, wasting the time between; a shade of everything, you know and have come to be; falling apart at the start, an everlasting obligation” is sung at such a harmonic frequency that you would assume there was an angel descending down from heaven to rescue you, before the tempo picks back up and wraps its claws around you yet again. The clarity of the guitar allows you to just visual the frantic finger tapping required to play the cleaner, faster parts of the song. Whilst the raw sound allows you to get a feel of the energy and emotion put into this project over the years!
‘The End Of The Masquerade’ is the longest track on the album, coming in at just under five and a half minutes; it starts out nice and slow, before getting even softer as Strid shows the emotion that comes from deep within when he shows off his clean vocals. The slight heavier sound that kicks in roughly 1:30 adds a nice chugging tempo to the softer sounds of the song, causing the head to start slightly nodding along; Strid pairs up his clean vocals with a nice growl in the background, adding just that little bit of aggression that this song needed to fit right in on this album. A nice little diamond contained within the overall rough sound of this album!
After ‘The End Of The Masquerade’ drew you in close with its nice soft sound, ‘Under Siege’ throws you back out to the masses with this perfect track to play in the background as you have to defend your territory! Coming in at 3:02, ‘Under Siege’ is most definitely going to get the security on the evening on their toes, as this is most definitely a song that inspires you to get up and throw down; the title of this track perfectly sums up those on the rail.
Having reached ‘A Step Away’, we are onto the second half of this album, but it shows no signs of slowing down whatsoever! The opening is perfect windmilling tempo’ the fast and light guitar sounding very 80s-esque; the finger speed required to successfully pull this off is frightening to even think about. Strid showcases both extremes of his vocal range; layering his harmonic lyrics with his unclean lyrics is just done so seamlessly and perfectly that it sounds like there is a clone singing alongside him! The extremely soft and vocal dominated outro is a nice contrast to the start of this track; ‘A Step Away’ essentially showcases everything Nemesis Alpha has to offer within this four and a half minutes.
‘Insanity’ comes at you hard and fast; the guitar full speed and chugging from the get so. Throw in a very small drum run before Strid describes the symptoms of losing your mind, even flat out questioning “Where did it go, my sanity?” multiple times, before describing other actions such as “staring at the wall, waiting for it to take me”; it is a very good insight into what it would be like to slowly lose your mind and drift further and further into insanity. The song title is VERY fitting for this track, as well is listening to Strid close the lyrical track with the word “Insanity” slowly fading out to nothing as he draws on every last breath to hold the word as long as possible.
Starting out with a very soft but almost Indian influenced effect on the guitar, ‘The Haunting’ is another very heartfelt song that showcases the emotion that Leal has drawn on whilst writing over the years; the opening lyrics are delivered in an almost spoken vocal style, which just adds to the chills that get sent up and down your spine. The chorus, which shows the struggle behind watching someone “Run Away” leads the song into a heavier sound, as the lyrics “Everything’s on fire, but the flames don’t bother me” just shows that nothing is going to be more painful than opening yourself upto someone only to have them turn their back on you! ‘The Haunting’ takes you along a rollercoaster of different styles within the one song, as not only does it change along with the potency of the lyrics, but it also changes with the stages you go
‘The Endless Maze’ opens up with guitar that sounds very much like REALLY early Bullet For My Valentine (The Poison era); the vocals that follow do nothing but help add to that comparison! Lyrics like “I can tell you live a thousand lives, full of pain and regret”, “hold onto what you’ve got, step outside this maze” and “maybe all will be forgotten, as you find serenity” just showcase the hard hitting levels of emotion that Leal is trying to reach with his lyrical content and he most certainly achieves that. The light spirited breakdown in the middle is a nice ribbon that bundles this song together.
Coming in at a tick over three minutes, ‘A Sinner In Your Shoes’ is the shortest track on the album; it most definitely doesn’t need any longer though as it comes at you like a right hook, especially after the melodic ‘The Endless Maze’ that preceded it. The lyrics are delivered with pure venom and aggression, being supported nicely by the raw and chugging guitars that we are well accustomed to on this album! “A walking zombie for all to see; will you release me from misery?” explains the feeling and question that majority of society has most likely experienced at least once; another song that hits close to home because of the lyrical content.
‘Ordinary’ most definitely doesn’t live up to its name, as this track is like nothing else on the album! There is very little to none screaming or non-harmoniously sung vocals, which makes for another well-hidden diamond. The guitar is very slow and catchy; the drums being the perfect addition to flesh out the sound perfectly. ‘Ordinary’ has to be the best showcase of Strid’s vocals on Nemesis Alpha, once again being paired up with very hard-hitting and emotional lyrics, such as “and though you might be ordinary, we will soon see if you can’t be” leading the way.
‘The Last Collapse’ is the last stop on the epic rollercoaster that Nemesis Alpha sends you through, going back to the hard hitting style that it started on! Strid has saved the best for last, completely stepping his vocals up a notch compared to the track that was on ‘Ordinary’. This interviewer just let himself get absorbed and sucked in whilst listening to this track and honestly, he thinks that you should just allow yourself to do the same; you’ll thank me afterwards!