Thursday 22 May 2014

Nux Vomica - S/T (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 31/3/2014
Label : Relapse Records

‘Nux Vomica’ track listing :

1). Sanity is for the Passive 12:40
2). Reeling 11:53
3). Choked at the Roots 19:48

Bio :

Portland, OR's underground crust miscreants NUX VOMICA unleash their Relapse Records debut and first full-length album in over 5 years.  Blending the suffocating atmospherics of doom / sludge with the raw ferocity of black metal, punk and d-beat, NUX VOMICA construct an organic heaviness caught somewhere between Neurosis and His Hero Is Gone.   Their self-titled LP is a 3 song, 40+ minute emotional odyssey into the depths of human darkness.  A flawless combination of epic song structures with crushing melodies and colossal riffs with powerful dynamics, NUX VOMICA is a truly captivating listening experience that will appeal to fans of anything extreme.

Formed in 2003, Nux Vomica was spawned in Baltimore as a side project of Wake Up On Fire. The original idea was to have a more stripped-down crust/metal sound, getting away from the lengthy epic doom-heavy sound of WUOF. Chris Control, Tim Messing, and Just Dave shared both bands until WUOF’s demise at the end of 2004. From that point, Nux Vomica took off, releasing a 7” and touring the U.S. in 2005. The original lineup was Chris-guitar, Tim-guitar, Ben-bass,Marty-drums, and Just Dave-vocals.

Early 2006 saw the band relocating to Portland OR and recruiting Zack on Drums. In 2007 they toured with their first LP “A Civilized World,” recorded with the old lineup. The new material being written with Zack started heading more toward the path of the WUOF sound: songs were getting longer and more complex, and some added percussion by Just Dave entered the mix. In 2008 Danny replaced Ben on bass, resulting in the current lineup: Chris-Guitar, Tim-Guitar, Danny-Bass, Zack-Drums, Just Dave-Vocals and Percussion. This is the lineup that has proven to be the most cohesive and lasting, and the band’s new sound solidified, blending elements of punk, dbeat, metal, doom, and other genres.
U.S. and west coast tours over the 2007 - 2010 period saw an increasing following, helped by positive reviews of the 2nd (double) LP “Asleep in the Ashes,” which was released in 2009 along with a slew of split records and a 7”. They had also developed a reputation for powerful live shows. In 2011 Nux Vomica toured Europe for the first time, and released a new 7”, “Cycles.” That year they also started recording their 3rd LP, self-titled “NUX VOMICA.” In 2012-2013, the band worked on more new material, including a cover of Wake Up On Fire’s unreleased song “The Three,” with new lyrics. They toured the west coast with these new songs in the summer of 2012

Review :

When you see the words “crust” and “sludge” thrown together to describe a band, a certain sound starts to form in your mind, but I can assure this is very different from what you’re thinking. ‘Nux Vomica’ is a fantastic example of a band throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and virtually everything sticks. For a lot of bands, genre hopping is a jarring sort of experience; it’s done with all of the subtlety of a shotgun blast to the face. For Nux Vomica, it sounds more like they had no other choice but to transition from galloping sludge to the melancholy crust to ethereal tremolo picking, as they do on "Sanity Is for the Passive". Everything on 'Nux Vomica' is composed with such an excellent flow that it’s easy to forget just how much variety they pack into all three songs.

In another example the second song, “Reeling”, opens by building up to a big moment using a riffing style you might hear on a blackgaze or post metal album before coming to an apex, which has all of the bravado and fist-pumping heaviness of Poledouris’ ‘Conan the Barbarian’ score, only without the orchestra. The whole thing then collapses back into the style of the opening build-up, only now a distorted bass line leads the way and its further sweetened with a dose of tremolo harmony. It picks up again with something right out of mid-era Katatonia (think 'Discouraged Ones’ or ‘Tonight’s Decision’) followed by yet another massive climactic moment driven by double bass and layered melody.

There’s a ton going on in each song including flirtations with melodic black metal and melodic death metal on top of everything else. In fact, there’s so much to chew on that it’s easy to make it sound like a clusterfuck; thankfully, it's anything but. Everything sounds natural, everything is complimentary, and it all makes sense.

That isn’t to say the album is perfect, though. There is one thing that I pick up on every time I listen to this album, but it is truly a minor issue. No doubt, this only stands out to me because I’m a fucking nut and I dwell on insignificance. So, here we go with the negative, please hold your laughter until I’ve finished embarrassing myself.

The snare is dull, dry and too quiet in the mix. It’s not like the snare drum changes much over the course of most metal albums, so it’s something that I think about during the entirety of the album, and it’s pretty distracting. Because of this, some of the heaviest moments on the album are weakened and feel uneven, and some of the faster moments sound clunky because of it. It’s not an issue at all during the quieter moments, so it really only impacts the high points of the album, which is a shame.

With that said, if this is the kind of thing I’m pointing out while looking for flaws in 'Nux Vomica, the album has got to be pretty fantastic, right? Of course it is! In fact when all is said and done, I have no doubt that ‘Nux Vomica’ will be in my Top 10 for the year, as it’s in the Top 3 as I type this. It’s going to require some utterly amazing albums to keep this off my year end list.

Words by : Daniel Jackson

You can get it here