It’s been four years since the release of Nero’s debut album Welcome Reality. It served its job well as an explosive dubstep/electro album, but at times did feel overdone; its defining factor was their vocalist Alana Watson, who managed to keep up with these crazy productions and make them something better. Rather than repeating their mistakes, they’ve taken notes and worked to improve their formula, and Between II Worlds has come out sounding even better because of it.
The changes for Between II Worlds aren’t drastic. They’re still doing what they’ve always done, with the distinct futuristic electro sound remaining intact. The major change comes from the new-found subtlety that permeates the album. While there are still some bombastic songs to rival their first album, there’s a bigger focus on melodies and Watson’s vocals this time around, with less of a focus on the dubstep elements. It leads to some surprisingly engaging moments: The deep house of Two Minds works well with Watson’s reverb-laden vocals, especially as they begin echoing through the transition into the drop. It Comes and It Goes uses Watson to similar effect, but the song’s warbling synths and slow beat give it a decidedly different feel.
At the halfway point, the album experiences a shift in style starting with the title track. The following songs bear more resemblances to those from Welcome Reality than the first half of this album. This is especially noticeable on Dark Skies, which sounds like an updated version of Reaching Out, and Tonight with its heavier dubstep elements. The second half isn’t as compelling as the first, though the album does end on its strongest note with Wasted. Closing on a slow, brighter ballad was a bold move for such an upbeat album, but it worked out perfectly, and Watson’s vocals are at their best here as they croon over the top of the simpler instrumental before strings and heavier synths come in to close the song.
Even with a few weaker moments in the second half, Between II Worlds is still an extremely engaging album. Watson once again acts as the defining feature that makes the album great, with her vocals giving the songs more definition and appeal than they would have with someone else or as instrumentals. It’s not a major evolution in their style, but the updates made to it definitely worked in its favour and allowed for a more cohesive album with just enough variation to keep it fresh. Between II Worlds is an obvious improvement over their debut.