Review Summary: The epitome of dreadful, mechanical fad mooching.
Trends come and trends go... every now and then, the current “hip” way of doing whatever, music included, rotates as the old gets abandoned for something seemingly fresher and cooler. In the case of music, a “trend” is usually the work of a relatively small number of original acts that create the future genre of choice, they are then joined by a crowd of more or less competent followers/clones, the size of the pack proportional to the popularity of the style. Needless to say, a trend lets limelight hungry bands get a bit of fleeting recognition without much work – just tap into the current fad, make an album and split the royalties. You've gotta put a little more gut into it if you want to be any bigger than radio filler, but some acts are more than happy to be merely that. One of those bands was No One, and their only album works as a perfect definition of mechanical fad mooching...
No One's style of choice was nu metal. At the turn of the millennium, everybody and their brother were tuning their guitars low and wearing baggy pants, and it's pretty obvious that these guys were no exception. The foursome scored a deal with Immortal Records (home of Korn) right in the middle of nu metal's heyday, recorded an album, had two singles get a touch of airplay, toured a bit as underdogs for the more acclaimed bands and broke up – that's about as bland a lifespan a band can have. Occasionally, such acts leave behind some decent undiscovered music (Factory 81 anyone?), but in this case the lack of attention is more than deserved.
Why am I so harsh on them? After all, the elements of a nu metal album are there – the processed anger, the chugging, simplistic guitars, even a touch of hip hop influence. Nothing is missing when you try to mark stuff off on a checklist. It's pretty hard to have elements of the genre absent when the man producing previously took care of acts like Disturbed. The thing is that this is the flat out worst nu metal album I ever came across... every single aspect of the style, while present, sounds fake and forced, exactly like a band trying to tap into a fad and mechanically fulfilling all the obligations, but not having any connection with the music they're writing and performing. The longer into the album, the less I wonder why you can get this thing used for less than 50 cents on Amazon. The album starts off downright mediocre, and only gets worse...
The first track on the CD is by far the least dreadful. “Down On Me” is a passable attempt at an energetic opener (a styling that SOiL, another band taken care of by this very producer, managed to epically nail with “Breaking Me Down” later that year), but it lets us know not to expect anything exceptional here. We're introduced to the recycled riffs and unconvincing, faux angry bellow of Murk (stage names don't seem to be these guys' strength either...) right off the bat, but the best stab at songwriting you'll find on here (that's saying something, especially if you consider that this song has three generic riffs in it) and the fabricated energy manage to keep me from hitting stop. Not surprisingly, it was one of the two mentioned singles.
The other single follows close behind on the track list, and it's far from mind blowing as well. The one most effective riff on the album (which has me pondering where I heard it before...) gets pushed out of my head by a dismal chorus, and the song ends up leaving a bitter taste behind. To make matters worse, it's all downhill from now on... I will not go in-depth here, since I don't see a point in smiting each of these duds separately. This is filler at its worst, just aiming to rake up enough play time to issue a full length with the two singles. The riffing makes “Down On Me” sound like the peak of originality as the guitarist retreads the same nu metal clichés, making them sound even worse with each recycling. The occasional clean bit sounds even weaker, embarrassing No One in a whole new way. One can also (obviously) hear bass and drums, but they're both incredibly generic and foreseeable and do not add anything to the experience (pardon me, the bass occasionally plays some intros alone... and it would have been better if it didn't). The vocals round off the fiasco, to say they get old really quickly would be an understatement. The quality of the tracks has me thinking whether the band threw them all together in one afternoon, just to get the problem off their backs... but I can't honestly answer whether confirmation or denial would make me happier – is complete ignorance or complete ineptness closer to being excused?
No One's abysmal album serves as an epitome of what is wrong with blind trend following, mechanically creating empty music designed to sell while the current fad lasts. They stuck to the popular style, endlessly retreading stale riff patterns and supplying angry vocals, doing it all in the most unconvincing manner I've ever encountered. The guys did what the fad wanted them to do, but there was nothing to make them stand out among the masses of other bands that were doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason at the exact same time. Some of the competition turned out to be more original, others simply managed to churn out material that was better quality wise. No One got dragged down to the bottom of the ocean where it rests with fellow dreadful fad moochers, and another piece of evidence, more proof that riding the current trend for a touch of recognition is a bad idea if you don't have any real content to back it up with, is up for pennies on Amazon.