EP REVIEW: Nik Mystery – When

Release Date: December 14th 2018
Label: Qten Records
Website: None available
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thisisnikmystery
Twitter: None available


American tech metal crew Periphery have always had a melodic trait to their angular, progressive take on heavy metal, and that’s mainly down to their enigmatic frontman, Spencer Sotelo. What you may not know is that Sotelo has now extended that melodic tilt through his side-project, Nik Mystery, providing their debut showcase in their ‘When’ EP.

If you’re expecting hard riffs and breakdowns then you may be disappointed; this is very much a part of the blossoming retro-inspired synthwave scene that has recently heralded acts such as Carpenter Brut, Perturbator, and Gunship.

‘Now’ explodes into a gloriously hook-laden 80s pop anthem with plenty of synth and some punchy drum beats enclosed within, while Sotelo‘s vocals never stray too far from the saccharine end of the spectrum and are complimented with decent guitar licks here and there. ‘So’ adds some further technical touches, including an excellent guitar solo from Mike Dawes, and vocal layering which adds a unique flavour to the track, and, whilst there’s a large amount of synth in the background, a trademark Sotelo scream eeks its way in towards the end of the song.

The production throughout is exceptional and there’s a real throwback vibe which still sounds relatively modern and fresh. Who knew that Toto would make a comeback in this millennium?! ‘Drive’, along with being the quote/unquote heaviest aspect of this EP, holds a tangibly more urgent nature to the dynamics of the song, with a chorus that is undoubtedly the catchiest material on this release.

As previously mentioned, fans of Sotelo‘s other projects (notably Periphery) may not be accustomed to this stylistic change, but for those with an open mind, Nik Mystery fit into the synthwave movement brilliantly and give a different edge to the frontman’s repertoire.