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Now Or Never - "Now Or Never" (CD)

Now Or Never - "Now Or Never" CD cover image

"Now Or Never" track listing:

1. Reach Out (For The Sky)
2. Now Or Never
3. Wind Of Freedom
4. Brothers
5. Hardened Steel
6. Princess Of Undiscovered Land
7. An Angel By My Side
8. How Do You Feel?
9. Dying For You
10. Who's In The Mirror?
11. Something's Missing
12. Weirdo Lullaby

Reviewed by on June 20, 2013

"This album is truly the first one that succinctly fits the definition of 'the modern evolution of metal and hard rock,' with absolutely filthy riffs punctuated with a very edgy Jo Amore."

I must admit, a band featuring Pretty Maids guitarist Ricky Marx and Nightmare vocalist Jo Amore sounded very intriguing. Amore has been in the business so many years, first as a drummer and then as one of the most underrated vocalists in metal. Nightmare has a legacy that most people in the United States don’t even know exists. As for Ricky, he appeared on Pretty Maids’ 1990 “Jump the Gun/Lethal Heroes” album. Add to the mix Ex-Pretty Maids bassists Kenn Jackson, who played on every album from 1992’s “Sin-Decade” through 2010’s “Pandemonium.” So the original imagination of the combo was hard rock with an edge, with emphasis on the hard rock. The result of this combination is a concoction of high octane metal with hard rock elements accented by industrial samples. This album is truly the first one that succinctly fits the definition of “the modern evolution of metal and hard rock,” with absolutely filthy riffs punctuated with a very edgy Jo Amore.

The album opens with the shockingly sick riffs of “Reach Out,” and immediately the tone of the album screams “modern classic.” Jo Amore’s vocals kick in and wow…. what producer Pat Liotard was able to draw out of his voice is unlike anything I’ve heard him do before – like Jo with a switchblade included! This jagged edge makes the album much more lethal. Overall, expectations were well exceeded, as I almost anticipated the hard rock influence to be the prevailing one, but I was wrong….so wrong. Throughout the album, there is an enormous lead weight attached to the guitars – tuned to a grinding heaviness that had my ears perked and head banging in response. Those riffs sound even cooler with the embedded bits of industrial samples as on “Brothers,” which only serves to enhance the song. Thankfully, they are tastefully used and not overdone.

“Now Or Never,” “Wind of Freedom,” Princess of Undiscovered Land,” and “How Do You Feel?” are all among my favorites on the release, with a modernized metal sound ahead of its time. With a rustic sci-fi feel, the tracks sound 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 “An Angel By My Side” are heartfelt ballads, perfectly positioned on the latter half of the release, a “wind down” if you will.

There are times where the 90’s “guitar choke” gets a bit much, like on “Hardened Steel,” which starts off with an immaculate melody accented by some futuristic “airy” keywork, but it gets caught in the mud during the verses. However, the chorus resurrects the tune. It’s an acquired taste, certainly not a new thing, especially when the entire band chokes 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.

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 refresh on hard rock and metal – the listener will get a healthy dose of each. Now all the band needs is a label to take notice.

Highs: A refreshing modern take on hard rock and metal.

Lows: Occasionally, riffs get mired in a choking mud.

Bottom line: For Ex-Pretty Maids members joining forces with Nightmare's Amore....its Now Or Never!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)