Album #1: Nuclear Dreams – Year Zerø

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Basque Country
  • Label: Unsigned (I think!)
  • Best Track: Empty Eyes

I thought I should start this project with something that’s brand new. When a new year starts, I try to listen to an album released in that year as soon as I can. It makes me look cool and cutting-edge, and a complete anorak obsessed with chronology at the same time – two looks I’m completely going for.

The problem is, not much tends to be released on the first Friday of January. That’s understandable – it’s still Christmas really, isn’t it? What have you done by January 3rd, apart from just about recovered from your hangover? Luckily, there are a handful of hardy musicians who have started 2020 in ultra-productive mode and have managed to release a record in the embryonic days of the year, including Basque four-piece Nuclear Dreams with their debut album Year Zerø.

I can’t find out much about them at all, but this site describes them as ‘Alternative Punk Emo / Hardcore Metal Industrial Rock Experimental’, which sounds vaguely like something I might like. Meanwhile, Apple Music categorises them as ‘College Rock’, which basically can be anything with guitars that’s accessible enough to be played on the radio, ranging from R.E.M. to Red Hot Chili Peppers. I was thinking they might be either a bit punk or death metal with their somewhat apocalyptic sounding name and album title, as well as track names like ‘System Failure’ and ‘How’s It Going To End?’.

Unfortunately, whatever genre they are, Nuclear Dreams are not really my thing at all. Don’t get me wrong, to the ear of a non-musician like myself, it does sound like it’s technically very accomplished. The singer has a superb vocal range (as evidenced on the track ‘Number One’ in particular), there’s some excellent guitar work on tracks like ‘Darkplace’, and the intros to ‘Silent Zone’ and the title track grab the attention. It’s a commendably ambitious debut album from an obscure band too, at times veering into the operatic.

But overall, it makes me think of a slightly more metal-oriented Muse, and that’s not a selling point for me. I’ve always ranked Matt Bellamy alongside Mariah Carey as proof that a skilled and powerful vocalist is not necessarily a pleasurable one to listen to, and I’m afraid this guy is similar. I’d also rather he sang in Spanish or Basque. I understand the commercial scope of English, but it can all start to sound a bit Eurovision and I think it’s a shame more European bands don’t sing in their native language. I’d rather not understand lyrics than understand them but have them mean nothing to me

So, not my bag, but good luck to Nuclear Dreams and thanks to them for starting my quest. If you’re a metalhead who doesn’t mind a bit of Muse, check them out.

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