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Now Or Never - "II" (CD)

Now Or Never - "II" CD cover image

"II" track listing:

1. The Voice Inside
2. Sonic Ecstasy
3. King for a Day
4. I Shall Remain
5. I'll Be Waiting
6. The Answer
7. Revolution
8. Save Me
9. Feel Alive
10. 'Til the End of Time

Reviewed by on April 6, 2016

"Without straying too far from the metal umbilical cord, the band draws in an alternative rock/metal element, one that makes a mundane style fresh and new without turning into a Linkin Park or Godsmack clone."

A lot has happened since Now Or Never came upon the scene with the debut self-titled album back in 2013. For one, vocalist Jo Amore departed Nightmare, the band he spent the last 35 years with (started as drummer and became the vocalist). With Now Or Never as his main act, Amore can concentrate on progressing the band’s modern style that draws influences from metal and hard rock and melds them into a high octane ball of energy. On “II” – the band continues the sound of “Now Or Never” and should appeal to fans of metal with a modern approach.

In 2016, if traditional metal bands are not jumping on the so-called “New Wave of Traditional Metal” – which is basically new groups performing metal from the 80’s in a way that aims to re-create the sound for a new generation – then it’s performing the now common and so-called “modern metal.” Lately, it seems the modern metal application is applied to pioneers like Scar Symmetry and any that fall in its myriad of clones. Now Or Never successfully keeps its sound grounded in a hard rock/traditional style with a heavier edge and soaring melodies, but with a modern approach. You won’t find any keyboard elements on “II,” an album that is guitar dictated by design.

Without straying way too far from the metal umbilical cord, the band draws in an alternative rock/metal element, one that makes a mundane style fresh and new without turning into a Linkin Park or Godsmack clone. The perfect example is “I’ll Be Waiting,” where the brooding verses and bridges reflect shades of Alice in Chains. Juxtaposed is “The Answer” – a much more straight forward crusher, but not without its own modern elements. While the whole concept is very refreshing, I kind of miss Joe’s take on pure power metal, a direction Nightmare was solidly on before the split. There are times on “II” where Joe’s voice is a bit too jagged to hold the clarity the melody calls for. This is by no means a criticism of his voice, but rather how it fits within Now Or Never’s direction (check out “Revolution”). The material strays a bit farther from my interest than was was presented on the debut, but the execution is no less excellent.

For sound, the band turned to producer Pat Liotard, the man who put his stamp on the group's debut. Liotard is a phenomenally talented producer that really captures and transmits the goals that Amore, guitarist Ricky Marx (ex-Pretty Maids), bassist Kenn Jackson (ex-Pretty Maids) and drummer Ranzo are trying to convey. In speaking with Marx, he described the intended direction of Now Or Never and Liotard delivered in terms of crystal clear production that wraps the alternative melodies without losing any of the heaviness. The real standout tracks are album favorite “Feel Alive” (appeals to modern thrash fans), “Sonic Ecstasy” and “I Shall Remain” (both which appeal to the more traditional power metal fan).

If you like your metal grounded with the axe but with a fresh healthy alternative outlook without dwelling in 90’s grunge, then “II” is right in your wheelhouse. It’s uncanny - the band is both the sum of the pedigrees and influences of its members and the furthest thing from them. Alternative styles have been weaved into a traditional base before, but none with as much success as through Now Or Never. “II” takes the pulse of the debut and pumps more blood into the direction that makes for a very enjoyable release.

Highs: Well executed blend of metal with alternative wings.

Lows: The alternative influence may scare away a lot of the traditional metal fans.

Bottom line: "II" continues the musical style of Now Or Never, one that takes it a bit further into the alternative realm.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)