Nu metal’s world-conquering stint at the top may have horrified as many diehard metalheads as it enamoured, but the much-maligned subgenre’s influence can be clearly heard in a lot of the most exciting new music.
Thanks to a debut album that blends elegant melodies and rugged hooks with plenty of post-Tesseract crunch, London’s Derange are poised to become the new darlings of the tech-metal scene. But, as singer Cat Pereira explains, the spark that set their ambitions alight arrived wearing a backwards baseball cap.
“I’d just started my last year of my degree and was refreshing my playlist and listening to a lot of nu metal again,” she says. “Stuff like Limp Bizkit and Guano Apes, all the bands that really influenced my taste in music. I thought, ‘Why isn’t anyone doing this stuff anymore? It would be cool to do something like this…’ I contacted Joe [Macpherson, bass] and Nick [Crosby, guitar] and we went from there, recording demos. We released an EP, made the video for our song Echo and started getting some attention. Now here we are. But it’s that nu metal vibe that got us here!”
Produced by legendary knob-twiddler Russ Russell (Napalm Death/Evile), The Awakening is a debut album that incorporates plenty of contemporary metal tropes without sounding like an exercise in blank-eyed bandwagon chasing. Cat’s voice veers from rich, soulful melodiousness to eyeball-splitting screams with insouciant ease, while her bandmates seem to have found a way to simplify the djent blueprint without erasing any of its futuristic oomph. But despite her band’s impeccable tech-metal credentials, Cat believes that the scene has progress of its own to pursue.
“The tech metal scene is very male-dominated,” she notes. “People automatically think I’m a bandmember’s girlfriend, so when I tell them I have my own metal band they’re like, ‘Oh, bless!’ Ha ha! So there’s still a lot of sexism and people insisting on saying bands are ‘female-fronted’ instead of just saying ‘a band’. Things have improved but you still hear people saying, ‘Not bad for a girl!’ I hope we can help to change that.”
That desire to instigate change and to bring enlightenment to the metallic masses is an honourable one. Luckily, Derange have the songs and the charisma to back up their singer’s heartfelt rhetoric.
The Awakening exhibits an accessibility and melodic verve that sets it apart from the majority of the band’s contemporaries, and with Cat’s gracious disinterest in conforming to anyone else’s rules, this band have enough charm and conviction to take them all the way.
“I wanted to take a universal approach to the lyrics on this album,” she says. “It’s not about ‘I’, it’s about ‘we’. It’s about living in the present moment and bringing people together. As the songwriting developed, the songs started to pick up this bipolar, up and down vibe, just like the cycle of life.”
*The Awakening* is out now via iTunes and Spotify