NUX VOMICA will release their self-titled Relapse Records debut on April 1. This was a band that, prior to this review, I had never heard of before. I love getting the chance to listen to bands that I have zero clues about. I feel it gives me a true, unbiased opinion once I get to digest the material. This album is laid out very differently than most I’ve come across in my life. It is indeed a full-length record, but only has three songs on it. However, they combine to over 40 minutes of material.
The first track on the record, “Sanity is for the Passive,” charges forward with a brief moment of feedback before kicking into a dark, doom-esque riff. It quickly changes gears to a somewhat post-hardcore sound. The vocals are abrasive, powerful, and tortured sounding, reminiscent of a black metal style. In its nearly 13 minute duration, the song changes gears multiple times. You will hear moments of doom, d-beat, hardcore, black metal, noise, and sludge. For the most part, it’s fast paced until approximately the four minute mark. At that point, it becomes slower, yet still very heavy, until the end of the song.
“Reeling” begins with a clean guitar, slowly building in drums, a second guitar, and bass. It comes across as a depressing intro, with the feeling lasting till about the 2:28 mark, where the vocals slam into the song, making it devastatingly heavier. It still has a down, defeated feel to it during this segment. At 4:11, the guitars ring out, giving way to only the fuzzed out bass guitar in the mix. The low end thuds with clean guitars entering again soon after. At about six minutes in, synths are introduced to the song, adding some great symphonic elements. The heavy kicks back in approximately eight minutes deep through the finish of the song.
The third and final song on the record (boy, that sounds weird to say) is called “Choked at the Roots” and is nearly 20 minutes long. It starts with drums and bass, with a very eerie layer of guitar that seems to fade in and out. The eerie mood carries for about three minutes when the song then begins to crescendo. It soon shows heavy guitars with a short melodic section, before quieting down again. But not long after, the song bursts with energy, as the screaming vocals simultaneously begin. I feel that this one features the most melody on the LP, as well as the best guitar work. Some sections are very dreamy and harmonious, with screaming vocals over them. The mixture of pretty and ugly works very well for them in this composition. As to be expected in a 20 minute song, it has many tempo changes and peaks and valleys. There is a wide array of different influences that helps to shape their music. The last five minutes displays a creative use of guitar feedback for noise, as well as harmony, then speeds into a ragingly fast d-beat section (which these guys are very good at) before it decrescendos in a doomy fashion to the track and album’s end.
Writing songs that are 11 minutes or longer for an album must certainly be a challenge. I applaud NUX VOMICA for taking a different approach on this LP. However, I feel that it left something to be desired. Long, epic songs are great, but I might have enjoyed this more with some shorter ones in between. Something to break up the epically long compositions. There is a lot going on in each of these three songs, which was positive at times and negative at others. I feel that the album shows solid work for the band, but could use a touch of refining and separation.
WRITTEN BY ERIC THE BULL