I recently experienced that rush of excitement when I took an exploratory listen to Madrid’s Next Step and their debut album Legacy. The fact that I live in Spain and they are from Madrid is probably the reason I took a closer look at the promo email from this uber-talented foursome. I’ll admit I don’t usually go for Spanish rock but something unexplainable drew me to this band.
From the moment the first note played, I was hooked. I was right there. In it with them and understanding exactly what they are trying to say. I know some colleagues at Moshville Times have recently agreed that there are so many hard rock/metal/modern rock bands around at the moment that it can often be a struggle to separate the wheat from the chaff. Well I have found wheat, delicious golden wheat.
This sublime album is simply overflowing with feeling. It’s heavy but contained, well thought out without being stifling and technically excellent without being clinical. It’s true that you can hear concrete genres at play here and modern rock is really where to place Next Step if you have to. It would also be true to say that musically you can certainly hear big influences from Metallica. It’s no surprise to see them as top of the list for musical influences on their Facebook page bio. However, it doesn’t detract from their greatness and simply serves as a nod to the kings.
Next Step bring a youth energy to the table but at the same time a level of maturity few young metal bands can display. Vocals are clean with a few tracks layering additional screams over the top. Singer Guillermo García has an impressive, mature voice and emits a controlled tone akin in places to Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong but with a powerful undertone.
I’m finding it hard not to get over-excited at just how good this album is. I genuinely can’t stop playing it and doing air drums, air guitar and singing my heart out to it. It’s distracting me from my work.
Stand out tracks for me are monumental opener “Wounds Become Scars”, and the slower paced “Nature Calls” which really showcases Guillermo’s full vocal range and has been my ear worm from the album since the first listen. “Price We Pay” adds texture with layers of synth in the opening bars and vocals, and “Legacy” which opens with an acoustic sound that quickly builds into an atmospheric masterpiece.
All the expected elements are carried off beautifully over the course of the album: soaring riffs, anthemic choruses, chunky guitars, melodic bass from Jesús Hernando, stylish solos from the awesome Irene Génova and vibrant, peppery drumming from Diego Solana. But that’s simplifying it too much. There is plenty of colourful variation so no track sounds the same, but what comes through most of all is the emotion in the song-writing. Written completely in English, it’s hard to imagine all members are Spanish. They have given their all to this record and it shines, it really shines, in full metal glory.
My only teeny weeny niggle is the band name. There are lots of things already called Next Step or The Next Step (TV shows, support groups, other bands etc.) and it doesn’t reflect the complexity, maturity and heaviness of their sound. But what’s in a name? Hopefully that won’t hold them back because Next Step are on course to shake up the metal scene as we know it.
Be sure to catch them live in the UK over the summer; dates will be announced soon on Moshville Times, and I’ll see you down the front.
Legacy was released on March 17th and is available to buy here