Rock band Nothing More crank the energy to 11 with their latest album “SPIRITS”.

Photo Credit: Jody Domingue

Why do we listen to music? Not everyone has thought of this question. Invariably the answer is different for everyone. “I like this song.” “This is my jam!” “This sounds awesome.” “It’s a vibe.” “Rock and roll baby!” are all reasons for listening to music. Some perhaps less common answers are “It helps me feel better.” “It got me through a rough time in my life.” “It gives me the comfort that I never felt as a child without a mother.” “Music saved my life.” and “Their music stopped me from taking my own life that day.” There may be as many answers to the question as there are people, however, the emotional power of music is undeniable. 

The music of the rock band Nothing More can only be summed up as emotionally powerful. The band was founded in San Antonio, Texas in 2003 and consists of Jonny Hawkins (vocals), Mark Vollelunga (guitar, backing vocals), Daniel Oliver (bass) and Ben Anderson (drums). Their songs usually center around hard hitting riffs, aggressive drums, nasty bass tones, and powerful vocals that have found a deep connection with audiences around the globe. 

Nothing More’s latest album “SPIRITS” was released on 14 October 2022. With this release the band has reached a new height in their songwriting and production skills. The themes of the album include the naivety of youth, the meaning of love, the brain rot of society and the importance of standing up for oneself. Nothing More also published an online personality test which was developed by Hawkins to accompany the album. It is actually quite a fun quiz and it definitely goes along with the themes of the album. They recommend that you take the quiz on your phone as it was developed for touch screens. Check it out at Spiritstest.com or follow the link in the band’s instagram @nothingmoremusic. 

And now, without further adieu, and keeping your spirit type in mind, crank up your car stereo and let’s check out this album. 

The album kicks off with “TURN IT UP LIKE (Stand In The Fire)”. The intro of this track takes influences from electronic music which contrasts well with the band’s full sound. After the intro the full band roars in with their energy cranked to 10 as Jonny’s passionate vocal performance sets the energy and tone for the rest of the album. The theme of this song explores the idea that we have to endure the fire and be cleansed of toxic influences in order to become who we are meant to be. The accompanying music video was directed by Robyn August (“Party With Me,” Snoop Dogg, Pitbull, Set It Off) and features mannequins with smartphones framing the band as they play through the song. 

All my friends are dead

We all got f*cked by the Internet

All my friends are dead

We want this sh*t to end

Get outta my head, outta my head

TIRED OF WINNING” introduces us to some vocal effects. Jonny’s performance combined with the effects has echoes of Tool in the verses particularly. The song explores the idea that god has abandoned humanity to define its own future. The omnipresent noise of the internet is also referenced and is a fitting tie into the previous track. 

Are you tired of winning?

No one’s coming to save us

Are you gonna live this life, live this life alone?

The third track, “SHIPS IN THE NIGHT”, continues the guitar riff that was started at the end of the previous track. The song is centered around a vocal sample of Alan Watts starting with his iconic line “The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.” Jonny adds to Alan’s monologue with a verse that touches on humanity’s fear of death and our tendency to ignore the reality that we won’t actually live forever. 

YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT LOVE MEANS” is one of those songs that really speaks for itself. It deals with the often existential issues that come along with not understanding love and how this misunderstanding can have dire side effects. The accompanying music video was also directed by Robyn August and adds a touch of insanity to the song through the visual storytelling.

I tried and tried ’til it made me sick

Round and round, a toxic mix

 
In the song “DON’T LOOK BACK”, Nothing More plays around with some more experimental sounds. They incorporate some electronic elements including distorted drums and synths which again contrast well with their usual rock instrumentals. Our singer narrates triying to escape from toxic people in his life as he vows to not look back. 

There’s love in abuse

But that’s no excuse, I’m done

There’s nothing

THE OTHER F WORD” is one of the heavier cuts on the album. The bass on this track immediately feels like it is trying to tear apart the fabric of reality. The breakdown in this song will definitely have crowds opening up the pit at live shows as Jonny urges us to call out the fakes. 

She said, “Every half truth will be half wrong some day

Listen to your gut, son, call out the fake”

For the track “FACE IT”, the band cranks the energy up to 11 with an ambitious rock anthem. It features a softer introduction with epic instrumentation that explodes into a high energy drop reminiscent of EDM songwriting. The chorus in the first movement on this cut is possibly the best on the album as Jonny calls on us to face our demons. Although the runtime is the longest on the album at 6:27, the expert songwriting will leave you wanting nothing more than to rewind for a second listen.

I am your gut, I am the truth

I am the power in you

I am the pulse that pushes through

After the epic climax of the previous track, “BEST TIMES” feels like a much needed musical hug after a hard day at work. Although the vibe of this cut is more subdued, Nothing More keeps up the energy and gives us a key change that feels uplifting almost as if the band is letting us know that it’s going to be ok. The music video was also directed by Robyn August and reinforces the nostalgic feeling of the song with the ghost of the best times.

They come and go like a dream

We never know how much they mean

It’s bittersweet

DEJA VU” is another one of those songs that speaks well for itself. It features a groove that will make your body want to move as the bass and drums lock into their hypnotic rhythm. Jonny sings about the deja vu of love as the song pulls the listener back and forth. 

It followed you, it followed me

In the track “DREAM WITH ME” the guitar playing is the real star of the show. Mark Vollelunga sets the foundation of the song with a down-tuned heavy riff that will make any fan of rock and metal throw up their horns and headbang. There are also some subtle orchestral elements towards the end of the track as Jonny asks us to believe with him which gives the song an overall dreamily hopeful soundscape on top of the heavy riffs. 

Falling (Falling) in too deep

So many of us stuck in denial

If the previous track was asking us to dream, then “NEVERLAND” is the sound of that dream. It is a transitional track that features another narration by Alan Watts in an instrumental bed of ethereal vocals and dreamy soundscapes.

VALHALLA (Too Young To See)” is perhaps the most beautiful song on this album. The track begins with an acoustic guitar part as we hear a parable about planting the seed of a tree. The lyrical themes of this cut are complex and the instrumentals reflect this with a variety of soundscapes with the initial acoustic guitar, the EDM influenced bridge and the almost hardcore breakdown/outro with another featured sample of Alan Watts.

When I was younger

I found and planted a seed

The very next day expecting a tree over me

Finally, but certainly not least, we have arrived at the title track “SPIRITS”. The drumming on this track is at times the most aggressive on the album and at other times wouldn’t feel out of place in a psychedelic jam. The soundscapes transition between heavy guitar riffs, groovy verses and spacy transitions. In true Nothing More fashion the band ends the album with an emotional punch and a loud goodbye. 

Thanks for reading our review! If you get a chance to catch Nothing More live we HIGHLY recommend it. Their shows are really something to experience and they always bring level 11 energy. As always stay tuned to Glasse Factory for all things music and be sure to rock on! 

Dom Author
Musician, Bass extraordinaire
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Dom Author
Musician, Bass extraordinaire

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