When a band has been quite successful over the last fifteen years, I guess an introduction should be redundant, nevertheless the accompanying information did shock me in a way; “Nemo offers with Coma what could be their swan song”. Are they serious, will Coma be their final album? Personally I hope not, for I cherish their music and can totally find myself in their French sung progressive rock with strong influences from jazz and fusion. Regarding the album's line up, you might think there is something going on; mastermind, vocalist and guitar player Jean Pierre Louveton (JPL) adds some bass playing to the album and regular bass player Lionel B. Guichard is only mentioned as guest, just like the third bass man on the album; Ollivier Long. For the record, keyboard player Guillaume Fontaine and drummer Jean Baptiste Itier remain members of Nemo.
The album Coma comes in several versions; a limited edition with a second CD filled with nice extras and covers. The one I got is the regular version; single CD with 6 new compositions all clocking way over five minutes and two go beyond the ten minutes mark. The album starts with an almost twelve minute composition; Le Coma Des Mortels, a powerful and recognizable Nemo composition. The long instrumental opening is absolutely spot on and grabs your attention. Rush, Dream Theater, fusion, all this nice stuff is combined in the first part of the song. When JPL's vocals begin, you will notice a deeper emotional voice than before; absolutely brilliant. Through the song the amalgamation of piano and electric guitar leads to amazing parts, including the more than solid drumming. JPL shows he is a very versatile guitar player who masters more than other gifted guitarists, from prog metal to fusion and from Steve Vai kind of parts to strong acoustics, he plays them all. Smooth piano playing leads to the next track; Train Fantôme, but within seconds the groove of the guitar takes over to another impressive composition. The midsection of this song holds strong powerful guitar playing and an amazing keyboard part, reminding of Derek Sherinian on his Hammond organ. Towards the end this progressive song turns into a cool fusion song, filled with beautiful guitar sounds. Only six minutes long is the following Comaïne, a song with a Led Zeppelin touch as well as reminding me of Lazuli's music, merging World Music with progressive rock. When the power increases halfway through the song the typical Nemo sound takes over, filled with both guitar as keyboard parts and solos. St Guy is an instrumental track filled with fine solo parts, both guitar as well as the keyboards and drums get numerous spots to excel, nevertheless this is a coherent song focussing on melodies and based on a very strong bass groove. Progressive rock meets fusion, I guess. Tu N'es Pas Seul is also a nice and slow song, starting with a Led Zeppelin sounding electric piano, but continuing with JPL's emotional vocals. Too bad the midsection sounds like the drums are programmed, but over all a great song with fantastic guitar playing. Should this album be the last of this fantastic band, they do close on an absolute high, Coma takes the best of all the albums and fuse this into a brilliant piece of music; bombastic at times, filled with strong keyboards, vocals and guitar. Let's push “repeat” one more time.
Coma is an amazing album! Progressive rock music, with lots of instrumental parts and breaks, highlighting the great skills of all three instrumentalists, topped by the best vocals I have heard on a Nemo album so far. I truly hope this band will continue to record and play live, on the other hand I can imagine you want to end with one of the best albums you have ever made.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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