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NEMESIS

Cairo

Crossover Prog


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Cairo Nemesis album cover
4.06 | 32 ratings | 3 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2023

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Asleep at the Wheel (7:46)
2. Trip Wire (6:13)
3. Glow (3:25)
4. Rogue (5:47)
5. The Love (5:21)
6. New Beauty (7:36)
7. Deja Vu (3:20)
8. Jumping on the Moon (5:35)
9. Save the Earth (4:14)
10. Nemesis (8:32)

Total Time 57:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Sarah Bayley/ lead vocals
- Rob Cottingham / lead & backing vocals, keyboards, programming, composer
- James Hards / acoustic & electric guitars
- Paul Stocker / bass, acoustic guitar
- Graham Brown / drums & percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

Cover: Paul Tippett
Label: Spirit of Unicorn Music
Format: CD, Digital
May 5, 2023

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to tszirmay for the last updates
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CAIRO Nemesis ratings distribution


4.06
(32 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
28%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(16%)
16%
Good, but non-essential (44%)
44%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

CAIRO Nemesis reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The Rob Cottingham-led sophomore Cairo album was excitedly expected by this reviewer, as I thoroughly enjoyed the opening salvo 'Say' back in 2016 and seven long years have passed, showing extreme patience but also tons of faith, as the wait was well worth it. The same line-up is back with a resounding, highly melodic, punchy, and diverse menu of compositions that had me drooling all over my non-waterproof keyboard. Sizzling guitarist James Hards, booming bassist Paul Stocker, skin pounder Graham Brown, stunning new lead vocalist Sarah Bayley all join in with Rob's voluptuous keys as well as his intricately dosed recipe for song writing, with a plethora of unforeseen shifts, with variety and charm, that had me on the edge (or as close to it as possible) of exaltation.

You want a forceful 'post-Covid-wakeup-slap in the face-enough already-lets get it on' opener? The aptly titled "Asleep at the Wheel" will undoubtedly trigger all sorts of inner ear bruising as the intro will require an after-the fact breathalyser test to determine the nefarious cause of such torpor in the first place. The Fool, the King, and the People each take a turn at expressing their feelings, a composite of divergent opinions, proving once again how confused the human condition always seems to be, regardless of time, space, and context. The razor-sharp guitars are hard (pun intended), the drums and bass pulverizing everything in its path, as Rob's bombastic keyboards inject a welcome majestic gloom to the piece. The doom-laden echoing voice sets the lugubrious tone with foolish conviction until a relative calm settles in, as the serene and reflective regal mood instills the entitled contrast, the extended keyboard structure a pure marvel. The popular retort re-ignites the volcanic eruption as we all find ourselves back to square one, whooshing synths not withstanding. POW! Good morning, Cairo!

Keeping the proverbial pedal slamming hard on the metal, Sarah forcefully squishes the microphone with a rocking performance on the blazing "Tripwire", with a voice that can easily reach Heart's Ann Wilson heights (yeah, THAT good!), interspersed with dynamic shifting sonic sands (they are called Cairo, after all), with evocative whoa, whoa, whoa harmonies , followed by slamming hard core instrumental chaos and veering off into a luxuriant oasis of gentle melody, only to finalize with a last hurrah climax. Total change of pace with the sweet innocence of "Glow", where Sarah Bayley shows off her stratospheric scale (hello Kate), a devilishly beautiful piece that has a whistling synthesizer passage and a celestial mood, proving that this quintet can create mellow nuggets to complement their electric side. Tea and sympathy with a touch of bonhomie, indeed.

With a title like "Rogue" fitting so nicely with my FB moniker (PROG ROGUE), any ode to rebellious non -conformism will sit very well, thank you. Some people lead, way too many follow, some people only do, some others only think but very few, think and do. The arrangement spans the gamut from choppy exaltation to surreal Floydian expanses that have that RPWL feel just long enough to beguile and applaud in admiration. They just out floyded Pink! This is the perfect set-up for one of the most devastatingly beautiful songs this seasoned reviewer as ever heard, the goose-bump inducing "The Love". I am reputedly a huge fan of romantic-tinged ballads, often loaded with deep emotion, pain, hope, and yes?love. This is on par with the celestial "Moments in Time" by Karnataka, the profound "Questioning Eyes" (Mostly Autumn) or the thunderous "Searching for my Shadow" (Breathing Space). When a tune starts off with a piano melody so perfect that you swear you have heard it before in your dreams, well, how great can the impact be? This song could/should be snatched by all the great female vocalists out there from Streisand, Brightman (whose version of the Beloved's "Deliver Me" still crushes my heartstrings), Lady Gaga to Adele, Stefani, and Swift. You need to hear this and I wager you will. Sarah Bayley, a name to remember.

The exhilaratingly clever "New Beauty" stamps this already with a proverbial golden buzzer, as the seemingly endless quality of the material proposed is off the charts, a delicately thrilling guitar web only serves to entrap Sarah's vocal athleticism as she pirouettes her voice into overdrive, navigating the intricate chorus with Formula 1 ease. This is an exquisite track that enthrals, hypnotizes, and sways the listener into a heavenly expanse where, thankfully, there is no requested escape. Mercurial atmospheric alterations only enhance the gratification, as the instrumental bombast keeps rising like an upward vortexed tornado. The appropriately titled "Dj Vu" is like a long-lost classic, a vocal duet between Rob and Sarah that defies the norm, a brief shining glimpse at melody done perfectly with a luxuriant electric guitar foray that showcases James Hards impeccable skills. It may be viewed as 'been there, done that' but isn't that the point? Another great track. Enthusiastically playful and evocative of unrestrained adventure, the free-spirited "Jumping on the Moon "has all the ingredients of a once puerile maturity, expressed in the course of a fast-paced piece that once again offers countless twists and turns to maintain the listener's attention. Darn it, this woman can sing with the best of them.

The initially forlorn and melancholic symphonics of "Save the Earth" serve as a sonic warning of doom and gloom, expertly keyboarded by Rob's meaningful stylings. A majestic instrumental interlude that will prepare one for the grandiose grand finale, the 8-minute title track that features Rob's rather impressive vocal abilities. From the towering piano-driven onset, the mood is set for a velvety ride that exudes oomph and a colossal chorus that will 'Float your dreams away' and be with you 'night and day'. "In hushed conversations, and quiet contemplations" this track will settle any doubts about the sheer overpowering quality of the menu proposed here, a gourmet banquet that will undoubtedly be among the very top contenders for album of the year. Another masterpiece that will feed me for a long time, perhaps even eternally.

5 Egyptian foes

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A refreshing smorgasbord of musical styles delivered by TOUCHSTONE veteran Rob Cottingham and his loyal crew of guitarist James Hards, bass/guitarist Paul Stocker, and drummer extraordinaire Graham Brown. The band's second album (their previous effort, Say, was released in 2016) introduces the rock-solid voice of newcomer Sarah Bayley: truly a talent to be praised and watched for future contributions.

1. "Asleep at the Wheel" (7:46) one of the more refreshingly-creative songs I've heard this year: the instrumental and stylistic palettes used are brilliantly blended, the rhythmic flow highly unusual and intriguing, even the song construct is odd and surprising, but my favorite element of the song is the incredibly-nuanced doubling of the lead male vocal with a perfectly-mirrored female just behind him. It took the few moments where each vocalist sang in solo isolation for me to verify what my brain kept telling me: "There's a woman's voice singing just behind the lead male!" I can't remember when I've ever heard this feature accomplished with such effect. (Answer: THE REASONING.) Then there's the (quite unexpected) heaviness blended with a rather SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES-like sound and style (especially evident in Sarah Bayley's androgynously lower register croon). And then there's keyboardist Rob Cottingham's amazing synth solo in the sixth minute! And did I mention the totally unexpected finish? Don't get me wrong: there are weaknesses in this song--and some choices I don't quite understand or agree with--but I LOVE the creative innovativity coming through with this song. Definitely my favorite song on the album. (14.5/15)

2. "Trip Wire" (6:13) Now I get the "Crossover" designation. These artists are chameleons! A heavy prog guitar chord progression and rockin' rhythm track power this one from the start so that Sarah Bayley's lead power vocal has firm ground on which to fly. Some Pat Benatar similarities here. The instrumental fourth minute is my favorite because of the drum play, Sarah's instrumental vocalise, the playful 1980s synth play, and lead guitar work. But then it kind of goes BON JOVI on us until the rhythm section reminds us that this is Sarah's song: we stop, restart with some spacey layers of synth play before the percussion and angular guitar chords join in--but, surprise! We never get to hear Sarah sing again! (8.875/10)

3. "Glow" (3:25) a very sparsely populated song in which I hear quite some similarities to Heather Findlay's voice as well as the MOSTLY AUTUMN approach to song creation. Very pretty little pastoral 1:40 until the blues-rock power chords and screaming lead guitar and synths take over. I'm glad she comes back to sing at the finish of this one. (8.875/10)

4. "Rogue" (5:47) I hear quite a bit of the fragility and un-Western sense of melody of early Sugarcubes-era BJRK in Sarah's voice here over the fairly standard pop musical construct. This time it's vocalist Rob Cottingham mirror- backing Sarah. At we switch into a very DAVID GILMOUR-sounding section--complete with Rob's doppleganger vocal performance. Not a great song (despite great drumming and fun synth play in the instrumental section), but I sure love Bjrk! (8.75/10)

5. "The Love" (5:21) despite opening with a syrupy electric piano solo, this one turns into another synthed-up blues- rock sound palette in which Sarah Bayley's voice sings with the clear diction and style of Mostly Autumn's Heather Findlay. (8.66667/10)

6. "New Beauty" (7:36) opening with an intriguing palette of heavily-reverbed slowly-picked electric guitar the song creates quite an engaging Floydian spaciousness--something that is then augmented by an equally spacious electric piano, performing in a lower register, supporting the guitar. The song takes almost a full 90-seconds in this mode before it begins to reveal its true form and style (which reminds me a lot of shooting star band THE REASONING from 2005-2015. Even the vocal styling is Rachel (Jones) Cohen-like!) Though nothing too exciting or innovative, there's just something very likable and engaging about this one, start to finish--kind of like a MOSTLY AUTUUMN or MANTRA VEGA song. I like htis one for my final top three song. (13.5/15)

7. "Deja Vu" (3:20) Drum machine! Vangelis Blade Runner synth lead! Great melodic hooks--on two levels. NO-MAN-like Tim Bowness vocals (with that magical female voice mirroring as if just behind the lead male)! Not a big fan of the ALEX LIFESON power chords, but, heck! You can't have everything. The result: Another top three song. (9/10)

8. "Jumping on the Moon" (5:35) pure synth pop--something that could have come from a SIMPLE MINDS / PETE SHELLEY imitator. (8.5/10)

9. "Save the Earth" (4:14) sustained synth drone note with repeating radio-voice samples and industrial sounds and effects open this one. In the second minute synth strings begin tracing out a melodic path and then rhythm guitar begins to add its muted low-end duads and triads. The spacious dance continues just as this until its startling (and sad) end with its four implosive booms and gong. (9/10)

10. "Nemesis" (8:32) perhaps a little too sedate, saccharine, and 1980s conservative (as well as derivative), this song, fronted by solo Rob Cottingham, may, in fact, have been one of Rob's older songs created and recorded before/after/without Sarah Bayley's input (despite the fact that she still plays a significant part of this with her angelic background vocals behind and with Rob's leads) because Rob's vocal is very much the lead force here. A very pleasant, pretty song, but nothing like the album's incredibly courageous opener (despite the wonderful little keyboard ditty in the final 35 seconds that is used to close it). (17.4/20)

Total Time 57:49

Did I mention how much I enjoy Rob Cottingham's RICHARD WRIGHT-like keyboard sensibilities: his solos and overall sound choices are at the top of my list of favorites for 2023! Very impressive!

A near-masterpiece of wonderfully refreshing and rather diverse progressive rock music--something every prog lover should at least try. As Thomas said in his review above, the world should take notice of newcomer Sarah Bayley; she is a force to be reckoned with!

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Reviewer
4 stars It has taken way too long for Cairo to return with their second studio album, in fact it has been 7 years since 'Say', although in between there was the excellent live album 'Alive In Holland' which introduced us to new lead singer Sarah Bayley, with the rest of the line-up the same as the debut with Rob Cottingham (lead and backing vocals, keyboards, programming) again joined by James Hards (acoustic and electric guitars), Paul Stocker (bass, acoustic guitar), and Graham Brown (drums, backing vocals) while it was produced by John Mitchell. As with the debut, what we have here again is a wonderfully melodic and thoroughly enjoyable album which is a step above so many others. It may only be their second album, but Rob has had a solo career as well as being in Touchstone, and I seem to recall John Mitchell guesting on 2007's 'Discordant Dreams' so he and Rob have been involved for some time.

This album combines the progressive sub genres of Neo and Crossover with melodic rock to create an album of songs which is an absolute delight. The keyboards are nice and powerful, with rich chords providing sumptuous symphonic drama while the guitars are also crunching when the time is right. It is incredibly polished throughout, with Mitchell using all his experience to bear to assist the guys in creating something which is just so much fun and easy to get inside. Some prog feels like hard work, but not this as there is a warmth inviting the listener in to just relax and have a good time, and it makes a really nice change for me to just sit and enjoy an album without having to get my head inside what the musicians are trying to achieve. Musically this feels like a close companion to the debut, and it is nice that the artwork also reminds us of what there was last time. We just need to hope it is not nearly as long to the next one as this is something to be played time and again, with gorgeous lead vocals and harmonies, all combined with hooks and finesse from a band who bring us melodies which makes the listener smile. Nice one guys.

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