Welcome to Synthwave Addicts Anonymous. I'm the bad friend that demands control of the radio in your car, because I think a life well-lived means you have amazing musical habits and clout. Call me a Playlist Connaisseur, because I'm not sure how natural it is to have 27 different playlists with multiple genres and moods.
Most of all, I believe a pleasurable experience is one best shared.
One of those guilty pleasures is Neon Nox. If you've never heard of him; take a seat for the ride.
Nox is an insanely talented artist from Sweden who has been releasing adrenaline-inducing EPs since 2015.
His latest album release, Last Stand, is no exception.
A brief introductory on our writing style before we commence: our reviews are meant to transport you into the depths of each track, deciphering our opinions beyond words by acknowledging the emotive impact as well.
Be sure to click each song title as you read its individual review for a shared real-time experience, and of course to support Neon Nox, the link is directed to their Bandcamp page.
Now, let us begin.
This introduction into the world of Neon Nox is exemplary in itself. The cinematic draw of the curtain welcomes us into a world beyond the confines of today. A retro-futuristic melody curtails us forward as a backseat passenger of Nox's visionary execution of sound. Rogue acts as a guide, and the wails of synth meeting the kick of the bass has every authority to demand us, devoted listeners, into voluntary submission. This track announces itself as the usher, unveiling Neon Nox with grand first impressions. There has always been a realm of the Hero's Journey linked to the very first title of each album he has released thus far. The BPM matches our heart rate as the song continues, and curiosity is amplified throughout the course of its origin story. Nox's persona is assumably the rogue, and we've met Nox as a character previously within his albums. The storyteller and creative writer in me wonders what he will encounter during this mission. In the meantime, we'll remain dancing during his every challenge and pursuit that unravels within the album.
As a casual gamer, my mind goes straight to Mass Effect the video game. Perhaps this was part of Neon Nox's influence on creating this song. Perhaps not. Regardless, there is much to be loved and appreciated about the vibe with each creeping chime. The percussion alongside a passionate arc disguises the initial slow into a cathartic piece. Mass Effect is Chapter 1 of a showdown between hero and machine. Neon Nox mixing in his studio combatting the elements of the synthesizer and the machines that provide that ideal sound. Taming beasts with his fingertips; that's an art form. Balancing the reverberation, Nox masterfully takes us to the next stage.
By the time the third installment plays, the choice to binge sets in. Digitial Contact instigates euphoria with a resounding clap to wake ourselves into a spectacle of melodic dissonance. I applaud with great enthusiasm the sparkle of major chords as it lights up the episodic undertones. Soon, the details come together to pack a punch of percussion and synthy orchestration. Exploration has a soundtrack. The great unknown before the age of discovery has an anthem. There are cues within Digital Contact that seem alluringly spatial. Intoxicating echoes adorned by midi-tunes are effective ingredients that allow inquisitive minds to further investigate the remainder of the album with eagerness and intent.
Neon Nox has the talent, power, and persistence to get anyone moving. I recall my first time hearing "Nightrider" [Syndicate Shadow, 2018] and the way it enraptured me inside and out. I couldn't resist myself from dancing, and let the beat take over. Arrival has a similar effect. A suspenseful build-up leads us further into our stupor. Arrival enables us to let go, wherever we are, and just forfeit to our instinctual ways of being. The ideal effect.
Music is the ultimate addicting substance. I let it abuse me, and take me for a trip of a lifetime. Arrival is the drug of choice.
We're encroaching on a, "soundtrack to your favorite action movie", type of vibe with Recon. Part of my appreciation for synthwave derives from the artist's ability to transport the audience into their own imagination. Instrumental music embodies a rare superpower; the fusion between music and fantasy. Recon provokes a scene to fit with the track. A great chase between protagonist and antagonist. A mission that could save or destroy the world. Anything you want. Embracing our imagination allows our creative energy to flow and make worlds of our own.
There are pleasant surprises within The Stash. Persuasive sequences of high-notes led me into the great unknown. Past 1:50, an iconic "mind-riffing" (yes, I just created this word) Powernerd guitar solo sneaks in.
"Twisted Getaway ft Powernerd" [Unfinished Business, 2016] provides an unforgettable legendary guitar solo as well. Getting another earful of that electric guitar is incredibly satisfying. Neon Nox and Powernerd genuinely amplify each other. The unification between them creates an amalgamation too intense to identify. There isn't a soul in the entire world who doesn't appreciate the power of guitar solos, and with Nox behind the synthesizer and his musical arsenal, the genres collide in beautiful synchronicity of instrumental wonderment. Toying with the attachment of 80's metal bands while creating a new form of appreciation for electronic themes is the significant influence synthwave provides.
I always try to blatantly expose myself to the fact that above all else, I'm a devotee, not a music theorist. However, with Dreamcatcher, I felt like I made a discovery while listening to it. This song reminds me of another release by Neon Nox, and if you listen to both, you will hear it too. I'm making a lot of references here, but its for good reason and to exemplify the consistency in which Neon Nox bestows one banger after another. Let's backtrack to "Fahrenheit" [Syndicate Shadow, 2018] and recall the dancing sequence of keys from 0:53 to 1:54 that become the main theme. Dreamcatcher is similar, yet dissimilar, as though it's the sequel to Fahrenheit. Upon hearing it and recalling the track from years prior, I felt substantially better about being a little more than just an admirer. I'll just call myself insightful, but not yet an expert. I'm sure I'm not the only person who noticed. Right?
The rainfall of melodies in this title bewitches me, and beckons me nearer to the climax of the album. Nox broodily walking through a rat's nest of bad guys as a vigilante of the future; or maybe he's enduring a troubling conflict. Whatever the case may be for the untold plot of Neon Nox's fiction, the Long Cold Dark encourages my imagination to wildly proclaim mysterious narrative insight.
The crescendo ever echoing, encasing me in the tangling coils of soundwaves. The shatter of the cymbals, the persistent resonance, and the climbing ladder steadily nearing the end of the song enables every shameless part of me to strut onto the dreamscape dancefloor and entertain new pathways of indulgence.
This is my favorite track of the album. Why Full Throttle specifically? Is it the high-intensity BPM alongside the reverberation causing my heart to palpate? There are occasional hints within Last Stand that resemble some of Neon Nox's best work, but there is something uniquely enthralling about this track that isn't a reflection of the past.
Shockwave inducing kicks like these are simply impossible to resist.
As an audience, you have to ask yourselves important questions when it comes to instrumental music:
Would I fuck to this? Would I drive to this? Am I still dancing? Full Throttle checks off all the marks.
I'm possessed by the act of momentum, the ethereal pleasures of fantasy, and the sheer "lack-of-a-damn" to dance by myself despite strange looks from onlookers.
The finale is nigh and Neon Nox delivers a deadly finisher with Evacuate. The impact of the rise challenges all others in its wake. Retro-reminiscence embodies the rhythm, encompassing all we know and love about the genre along with the nuances of neo-electro. Evacuate is a send-off, alighting a beacon of gateways within Nox's plot. Numerous forms of the episodic tale unfold and ignite with each tune, and a proper ending resides here. Of all things that end way too soon, this album impactfully instills all points of any action-packed storyline, and we know more will be revealed as Neon Nox releases album after album for us crazed fans to absorb and decipher.
Neon Nox blends the sands of time with his sound, never yielding to limitations. His sound provides elevated placeholders. Prodigious players, not limited to Neon Nox, pave roads within the music industry of evocative 80's nostalgia, by creating harmony with futuristic timelines. The gratification I get from writing reviews is the ability to share my ideas, influences, and personal reflection on an open platform. A huge thank you to Neon Nox, and all other artists who venture to this site to read personal, honest, heartfelt reviews from just one of many followers.
Physical copies of Last Stand can be pre-ordered at Neon Nox's Bandcamp page!
Please review the links below to follow him on all available social media platforms!
Neon Nox Social Links