Review – Nem-Q – Fault Lines – Terranes – by Progradar

In April 2016 I reviewed ‘Fault Lines – Subduction Zone’, the first EP in a two-parts concept piece from Dutch band Nem-Q and now the second part of said EP, ‘Fault Lines – Terranes’ has arrived at Progradar Towers to complete this ambitious project.

A “fault line” means fracture. The double EP album cover shows a fracture (fault line) between a heart and a brain. This not only marks the division of the album, but it also shows the inner struggle of choices and the consequences. The new songs vary widely in dynamics and atmosphere and are closer to the band than the previous (concept)album.
Nem-Q are Paul Sieben (vocals, guitar), Mark Reijven (guitar), Maarten Meeuws (bass), Dennis Renders (keys, vocals) and Twan Bakker (drums, percussion).

You can read my review of the first four tracks that make up ‘Subduction Zone’ here:

Review – Nem-Q – Fault Lines – Subduction Zone – by Progradar

The second EP, ‘Terranes’, opens with Perpetual Motion and the intro is very smooth, cool and laid back with a delicious bass line and drum beat. It almost has a rock infused jazz feel to it with the off-kilter beat and Paul’s classy vocal. These guys have just carried on from where they left off at the end of ‘Subduction Zone’, a quite mature and earnest piece of music with some impressive playing as the song gets heavier, almost agonising in its earnest intensity. There’s an intricate instrumental section in the middle with an uplifting vocal delivery, technical but with heaps of emotion and soul. An apt description for this notable group of musicians.

Bipolar has an unsettling opening, focusing on the title of the track. All edgy, and harsh and with a chaotic feel, you are drawn into the maelstrom and left to find your own way back. The vocals are precise and measure with a fervent, almost mocking tone. My mind feels like it is in the middle of a disturbing, confusing vortex of sound. The band use the music to tell the story perfectly and the undercurrent of agitation can be felt all the time. A special blend of progressive metal concept storytelling that has you hanging on every note.

The longest track at seven and a half minutes, Confusion has a mysterious and enigmatic feel from the first note. It moves along with cryptic undertones, the keyboards giving it a questing and searching aura before Paul’s knowing vocal joins the fray. This track seems to want to stay in the shadows, furtive and hidden and yet erupts occasionally with powerful and combative outbursts of emotion to give it hidden depths. Around halfway though the song, however, it morphs into something altogether more outgoing and demonstrative. There is a power that was previously concealed and yet now appears in all its glory, the keyboards take on a more urgent note and the rest of the rhythm section, drums and bass, join in giving in a breathless edge as its races to some unforeseen conclusion, a song of two distinct sides, darkness and light.

A much more metal side to Nem-Q becomes apparent with Misguided, the vocals have a menacing tone and the music a much sharper edge. There’s a faster pace to the song and every note seems to be delivered from the bowels of the earth with increasing magnitude and power. It’s like someone has turned everything up to 11 with no care for the plaster on the walls, the dynamism and impetus is addictive and just carries you along with it to the elegant close.

The last song on this EP ( and the whole concept) is the title track Fault Lines and it has a potency and stimulus that could move any leviathan. The electricity crackles and burns just under the surface as the keyboards, give an eerie note over the rabid riffing of the guitar and the frenetic drums and high-energy bass playing anchors this violent vortex of musical efficacy. There are some really intricate instrumental sections among the vibrant discord and the song comes to an abrupt close leaving you to catch your breath and admire what has gone before.

The perfect partner to ‘Fault Lines – Subduction Zone’ and one that completes the circle, ‘Terranes’ shows a band content with their identity and musicians with all the skill in the world. Excellent songwriting and compelling tunes which, when added to the first EP, form a whole that is greater than the already substantial parts. More heavy progressive rock than prog-metal, whatever you call it, just make sure you add it to your wish lists!

Released 21st January 2017

Order from the Nem-Q Store:



Review – Nem-Q – Fault Lines – Subduction Zone – by Progradar


I’ve often said I see myself as a musical ‘Indiana Jones’, searching through the musical waters for little nuggets and gems of deliciousness. Music that can transport you to a different place and make the world seem insignificant in comparison.

Quite often though, it is the music that searches me out, as if I am a magnet, attracting all that is good in this wonderful musical stratosphere.

My good friend Aloys Martens from RockLiveRadio recommended Progradar to Mark Reijven, guitar player with Dutch progressive/metal band Nem-Q and, after a few emails passed back and forth, the promo for their latest EP, ‘Fault Lines – Subduction Zone’, arrived in my inbox.

It only took a couple of listens to draw me into this intriguing piece of music and for me to find out more about this interesting band.

Nem-Q Logo

Nem-Q were formed in 2004. The five-piece band from Nederweert (The Netherlands) produced a unique blend of melodic rock/metal, jazz/fusion rhythms and pop rock influences on their first album ‘Opportunities of Tomorrow’ (2007). Comments were very positive. In the five years since that first release,  the band mainly focused on their live performances and musical development, thus creating Nem-Q’s own sound.

In 2012 they released a new concept album ‘301.81’ which showcased the development that Nem-Q had gone through. The title of the album refers to the medical term for a personality disorder. ‘301.81’ distinguishes itself from its predecessor by having much more complex melodies and vocal lines, heavier riffs and a much darker tone.

The new EP, ‘Subduction Zone’,  is the first part of the new album ‘Fault Lines’. ‘Fault Lines’ will consists of two EP’s with the subtitles: ‘Subduction Zone’ and ‘Terranes’. A “fault line” means fracture. The cover of the EP shows a heart divided by a fraction. This not only marks the division of the album, but it also shows the inner struggle of choices and the consequences. A kind of collision, hence the choice for the title ‘Subduction Zone’: a clash between two tectonic plates, like in an earthquake.

The second EP will carry the subtitle ‘Terranes’: the emerging of new rock formations after a landslide. ‘Terranes’ will be available later this year as a merged digipack with ‘Subduction Zone’.

Nem-Q are Paul Sieben (vocals, guitar), Mark Reijven (guitar), Maarten Meeuws (bass), Dennis Renders (keys, vocals) and Twan Bakker (drums, percussion).

Promo Pic Date

And now, the music…..

Opener Inner Struggle begins with a staccato riff and swirling keyboards while the percussion thunderously provides the backing. The vocals are quite stentorian and precise. It is like a smorgasbord of modern progressive metal mixed with 80’s heavy rock, like the Scorpions having an illegal liaison with Symphony X and it works really well. The gentler sections are punctuated by acoustic guitar and delightful piano and Paul has a great range to his voice mixing the bombastic with the humble and restrained with aplomb. The frenetic progressive metal elements are like a wild ride, epitomised by the brilliantly over the top keyboard solo about four minutes in and the crunching riffs that abound throughout and that lead the track out to a measured and masterful ending.

Shooting Stars has a much more restrained feel to it as it enters the fray with gentle acoustic guitar and reserved keyboards. The vocals are clipped and deliberate adding gravitas to this calm and considered track. It dances along with a gossamer-like step, filling you with an incredible lightness and ease to your soul and a feeling of well being. It has a feel of some of the more composed Marillion tracks of latter years, mature and sensible, yet there is a playfulness lying just under the surface.

Nem-Q Promophoto 2014 (1)

Vanity is one of the best progressive metal tracks I’ve heard in a long while, a brooding opening built up by fractious and insistent guitar riffs puts you on edge, the percussion adds a note of apprehension and then the vocals come in with a prophetic tone to complete the dark nature. This feeling is carried on as the guitars take on a more urgent note, driven on by the bass and drums and a heavy riff presages the building of the harmonised vocals into something very like Metallica at their pompous best. It is a gripping song that will not you look away, there a little intricacies, twist and turns that lead you up blind alleyways, it feels very angst ridden in places, especially on the rising chorus that makes the hairs lift on the back of your neck in a spine-tingling fashion. This is one of those tracks where, as soon a sit is finished, you immediately press play again for another dose of its stylish brilliance. It is a suitably impressive canvas of musical intensity that is being painted before your very eyes and the repeated chorus and powerful riffing hold your attention right until the heartfelt ending.

The final track on the EP is a laid back, if a little sinister in places, instrumental. Desaturate has a jangling guitar at its core, one that seems to be taking you on a hushed journey of foreboding and mischievousness. It moves across your psyche in a stealthy fashion leaving little notes of trepidation with every footstep. A deliciously dark and mysterious end to this wonderful record.

Nem-Q have delivered a brilliant twenty minutes of intense progressive rock music with more than a healthy dose of metal. Very impressive musically and with some excellent songwriting, it drew me in from the first note. I am now waiting with extremely bated breath for the next instalment.

Released 19th February 2016.

Buy ‘Fault Lines’ from RVP Records