Cairo, the genre-defying project founded by the multi-talented Rob Cottingham return with the stylish ‘Nemesis’, and album that taps into contemporary global concerns and demonstrates the band’s impressive, genre-defying approach with menacing, angular riffs, pop rock hooks and electronic soundscapes that all beautifully complement powerful and emotive vocals.
Recorded with John Mitchell at Outhouse Studios, this release ventures into familiar ‘CAIRO rocks’ territory with the dynamic, moving epics. There are also some exciting departures for the band venturing into more melodic rock areas and even a short keys-based orchestral instrumental which doffs a cap to the likes of the sadly, recently departed Vangelis, and acts as a prologue into the title track.
The opening two tracks are firmly in the ‘hard rock meets prog’ arena. Asleep At The Wheel and Tripwire both major on crunching guitar riffs from the talented James Hards and thunderous drumming from the energetic Graham Brown. The dynamic and elegant bass playing of Paul Stocker keeps things on the right course and the flourishes are added by Rob’s excellent keyboards. Add into this the charismatic vocals from Sarah Bayley and you have two songs that will satisfy ardent hard rock and prog metal fans anywhere.
There’s a complete musical u-turn with the beautiful Glow where Sarah’s haunting vocal takes centre stage, this girl certainly has a wide range to her voice and it’s delicate, almost fragile, timbre here is a joy to behold. Everything goes all melodic rock when the guitar chimes in, reminding you of prime 80’s Heart, especially when Rob’s spiralling keyboards fire up. It really is a fantastic piece of music. Rogue has an energetic opening and proves to be an upbeat and uplifting slice of pop/rock and the balladic The Love is an elegant, wistful track that bleeds a melancholic grace, simply divine.
The epic New Beauty is an utterly captivating and involving seven minutes plus of progressive tinged rock pomp and splendour that beguiles and entertains in equal measure and continues to showcase the vocal talents of the wonderful Sarah Bayley who, surrounded by these prodigiously talented musicians, elevates this album to another level. Deja Vu is a winsome three minutes of refined music where Sarah and Rob deliver a wonderful vocal duet, one that lingers long in the mind. The 80’s return on the fantastic Jumping On The Moon, a proper ‘banger’ that flies along at a hectic pace and drags you along happily in its wake.
The orchestral wonder of Save The Earth always has a portentous note of warning in the background, the sophisticated music delivering an enlightened message and is a perfect foil and prologue to the final, title, track Nemesis. The longest track on the album is also my favourite, which is saying a lot with the calibre of songs on offer. A proper Cairo epic and one that stops you in your tracks, the polished, restrained introduction then sees Rob’s calm vocals delivering an important message. This is pop edged hard rock at its best, the delightful music ebbing and flowing with the mood and the vocal harmonies between Rob and Sarah are just superb. Add in a wonderfully uplifting guitar solo from James and you have a fantastic close to a sensational album.
Cairo seem to have found their niche with the elegant, epic pop and prog infused hard rock that they deliver. This is sophisticated, elegant and polished music and ‘Nemesis’ showcases a band at a creative peak. Simply a superb release and one that you really should buy…
Released 5th May, 2023.
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