Nux Vomica - Nux Vomica - (9/10)
Published on March 24, 2014
Taking equal parts crust, melodic death metal, doom, punk and a few sprinklings of black metal, American genre-benders Nux Vomica release their third album, the eponymously titled Nux Vomica. This marks the band’s debut for the mighty Relapse Records, a label obviously saw some untapped potential in this Baltimore native turned Portlander act. The album’s swelling introduction showcases a batch of slow-burning chord progressions before completely exploding directly in your face. Everything from vicious and raging palm muting to melodic lead guitars to the post-metal sludge of later period Neurosis is wedged firmly in place on this album. Somehow, Nux Vomica makes it sound natural to force-feed every type of influence into a nifty package and not come across as pretentious or overly ambitious.
This one of those albums that needs to be listened from start to finish in order to fully appreciate the ingenuity of these musicians. It’s not really like you have much of a choice, as the album only features three songs. But at forty-four minutes in length, each track takes you on a twisting and turning journey that is meticulously crafted to keep your attention completely focused for the entire time. Although the band is able to embody d-beat crustiness, melodically picked chord progressions and fire-lighting trem picking, the transitions are anything but disjointed, naturally shifting gears with ease. There are atmospheric lulls with tom-heavy beat similar to Through Silver in Blood era Neurosis and there are melodically sparked lead guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place on an album coming from the peak of the Gothenburg melodic death metal craze. It’s all over the place, but the band is able to make it work.
I’d be lying if I said one track stood out more than the rest. This is an all-enveloping listen and you really can’t just jump in halfway through a track and expect to get the full effect. The album opens with “Choked at the Roots”, which is nearly twenty minutes long, showing the band’s penchant for atmospheric build-ups similar to mid-period Neurosis, which they build off of to dive straight into what could pass for Mark of the Judas era Darkest Hour. Not content to rest on their laurels, the guitars quickly shift gears into melodic trem picking which calls to mind certain riffs from Windir’s boudoir, especially the Likeferd era. The entire album just continuously pulls you in several directions, like being pulled through the whitewater after the thaw; all you can do is try to keep your head above the water.
This is one of those albums that I could go on and on about, attempting to paint a lucid picture of what the band is attempting to accomplish, but it’s pretty pointless. The only thing that you need to know is that Nux Vomica has crafted one of the most diverse and substantially dynamic albums so far this year. Truly, this is one of those albums that, and I hate the phrase, has something for everyone. There’s speed and aggression, atmosphere and mature songwriting and songs that you can just completely sink your teeth into. Nux Vomica is definitely an early contender for a year end top ten spot.