French band Nothing But Real

Lost In The World

Nothing But Real

With the rise of streaming and on-demand track-by-track playback, many have claimed that the traditional music album is dead.  French alternative rock band Nothing But Real begs to differ, as their new release Lost In The World is an unapologetically geeky throwback to the glory days of the highbrow concept album.

Lost In The World is a new concept album by French alternative rock band Nothing But Real.

Nothing But Real was first formed in 2018, and immediately made a name for themselves with their mythology-heavy presentation, influenced by anime and superhero movies.  Their first eponymous album was released in 2020 to good reviews in their homeland, but didn’t gather much attention elsewhere in the world.

Will they see more success with its followup, a prequel album exploring the origins of their band’s avatar?

Lost In The World begins with the arrival of an alien named Sakar on Earth, clearly establishing a “Stranger In A Strange Land” premise right off the bat.  The opening track is a short bit of spoken dialogue, with Sakar being confused by the world around him, and an unnamed handler encouraging him to explore the world and learn about it.

From there, things start going badly for Sakar, as the album launches into “Snake Eyes,” also its first single.  He’s immediately attacked by a pair of Amazonian warriors, who taunt him as they pursue him.  This track also establishes Nothing But Real’s basic sound: a mashup of 2000s operatic Eurometal and 80s-influenced ‘horrorwave’ synth work, with a touch of cinematic soundtrack grandeur.   

They’re fronted by lead singer Hanta, who could be described as Tina Turner gone goth.  Her strong, highly emotive vocals are a clear highlight of the album, but every member of the band has their chance to shine.  Eghan’s expressive drumming is another standout, as is the group’s use of Victor’s bass riffs and guitarist Tom’s licks in ways that resemble film music motifs.

As Sakar’s journey continues, he runs into a number of comic-book style villains, described in the band’s press release.  In classic 70s concept album style, most of these baddies get their own songs.  Red Fire, an aggressive warrior, proudly sings of his determination to conquer.  Scars Crow is a counterpoint, an aging warrior who’s come to define himself by the many physical and mental scars he carries.

Ultimately, the album ends on a creepy note: queried by his handler about his thoughts about Earth, Sakar starts laughing manically and declares that he really likes it here!

It’s rare to see a band put this much work into creating a mythology for themselves, and it helps them stand out.  That said, a lyric sheet would have been nice.  One flaw in the album is that, with Hanta singing 90%+ of the time, it can be difficult to discern the various voices of the characters being represented.  

Also, despite its aspirations to tell a story, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of plot.  This isn’t typically a concern for albums, but it is when a group is dabbling in cinematic prog concept ideas.  It’s basically a series of vignettes as Sakar runs into various over-the-top villains and personalities, with little progression or insight into his reaction to these things.

Finally, the songs can start to run together.  The group shows significant creativity in their brief instrumentals (tracks such as Music Box and In The Deep) as well as elements of the production.  However, the songs themselves stick pretty closely to the 2000s alt-metal formula.  That said, at only 33 minutes, the album doesn’t have time to wear out its welcome.

Overall, Lost In The World will appeal to remaining fans of concept albums, and its comic book influences could bring in a new generation of fans.  If Nothing But Real can continue to expand their sound, and build on their cinematic aspirations, they could become something pretty special.

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