BADER NANA - Wormwood [Review]

Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal

Label: Self-released

Release date: September 1, 2011

Reviewer: Kareem Chehayeb

Bader Nana is a Lebanese musician who lives in Kuwait. Wormwood is his first album; however, Nana isn’t a new face in the Kuwait rock/metal scene. Most music enthusiasts in Kuwait will remember his involvement with progressive metal band, Terminus, where he was lead vocalist and guitarist. More recently, Nana played drums with another Kuwait-based prog metal act, Benevolent, for a short period of time. So for those who know the Kuwait music scene relatively well, this album has been highly anticipated for a while.

At first listen, I was able to notice influences from Pink Floyd and Dream Theater, with melody phrasing similar to that of John Petrucci, Neal Morse, and David Gilmour. After checking his artist page on Facebook, I was correct…but enough with the self-gratification! Bader’s experience as a musician definitely shows on this album, and though the influences of Dream Theater are definitely the most obvious, it is by all means not an imitation, and there is a very unique identity to this album.

The album opens up with an instrumental intro track called “Wormwood”. It’s atmospheric and quite eerie, but directly leads to the first track, Rose; the track opens with a beautiful acoustic part accompanied by simple drums and beautiful string parts. All the tracks connect together like Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album, which is something I really enjoyed about this, being a concept album and all. Many of the tracks are similar to Rose: atmospheric, melodic, and usually on the lighter side of things.

However, Quarantine, which Bader put up on Youtube as a teaser for the album, comes in with a heavier riff with more chug and groove, and it sounds really great. The smooth bass-lines that accompany the offbeat drums sound great.

One of my favorite tracks is The Answer. It’s incredibly heartfelt, and has the nice balance between relatively heavier chugged riffs, atmosphere, strings, and an incredibly well phrased guitar solo by guest musician, Ramzi Ramman, who plays in a band in Lebanon, called JLP, though I think they’re a cover band (which is unfortunate, since he can write/play solos like that?!?!).

Desperate Measures is also a unique track: a four and a half minute long instrumental that is on the heavier side. The riffs are groovy and the drums are pretty intense. Definitely reminds me of Dream Theater.

The last track I’ll mention is the final track, Destroyer of Worlds. It’s another incredibly heartfelt track, and goes for thirteen minutes. It’s an incredibly powerful song that is incredibly dynamic. It really shows the potential and versatility of Bader as a musician and songwriter. Be sure to listen to all the tracks of the album, especially if you’re a fan of Pink Floyd and Dream Theater.

Wormwood is a concept album about the bubonic plague or “Black Death”. All the lyrics link together and compile the story of a girl, Rose (appropriately named too, if you history geeks know what I mean). To quickly summarize the story: Rose is born, and her beauty is nothing but of grandeur. As the story develops, she isolated from everyone, loses her parents, and eventually the world. She realizes that she is the plague. Once she realizes this, she chooses to end her life, by flying towards the sun, though I don’t know if she is literally doing that or if that’s just a metaphor for a simpler suicidal method.

I can go on about the lyrics for hours. They’re well written, and complement the passion and emotion of the music incredibly well. I personally enjoyed the lyrics of the latter songs (All Fall Down), where Rose makes the eventual self-realization that she is the plague itself. You can almost show sympathy for her.

Bader Nana, not a stranger to the music scene in Kuwait, but this is first official release, and what we got is a very well written album. The music is diverse, atmospheric, and all connect well. The lyrics are also written well. Not only do the songs flow together smoothly, but also flow together with the lyrics (which also flow together….erm smoothly) in order to have a clear and coherent concept album.

Wormwood’s fantastic, and is album everyone should check out, unless you really hate Pink Floyd and Dream Theater. My only criticism is that I feel like there was way too much Dream Theater influence there, but I can’t hold that against him. I can’t wait to hear what Bader has to offer next, though.

Favorite tracks:
  • The Answer
  • Quarantine
  • All Fall Down

Visit Bader Nana on Facebook | Bandcamp

Leave a comment