When I was first approached by the Drunks and asked to review metal albums for this site, I immediately jumped at my chance to self-righteously tear down crappy music and give props to those with actual talent. That was over a month ago… What the hell took me so long, you may ask? Well, it’s quite simple, really. The fact is that I’m intimidated by reviewing metal. If you were to visit Wikipedia and type in “heavy metal subgenres”, you will see why. The metal genre is complex, to say the least, and even though I’m a musician and a multi-instrumentalist at that, I felt as if I was out of my league. That is until I spent the last month powering through band after band of various genres. Now I know what I like and I know what I don’t like and why I do or don’t like them….
…that being said, because of my relative inexperience with writing these, know that my reviews are simply a reflection of my taste and I don’t speak for the genre elitists as a whole. I’ll go ahead and let them poison your brain with why their opinion is the only one that matters. But for now, I present to you my first review for this site [Disclaimer: written under the influence of strong craft-beer (9%, woo!!!) and general reckless abandon].
Nux Vomica hails from Portland, OR. They’ve been together since 2003.
That’s all I’ve got… their official Facebook page lists “regular bowel movements” as their personal information. I didn’t feel like digging much deeper after that.
If you feel so inclined, here’s their page:Nux Vomica
Nux Vomica – released Apr. 1, 2014 – 3 tracks – 44min
Yes, 3 tracks in 44 minutes. Spark the doobs. These guys were my first foray into crust punk land. But, it doesn’t stop there. It’s actually a hybrid… yes, a hybrid (lucky me) of “melodic death metal/crust punk”. Sure, let’s go with that. I definitely feel both of those genres in there. The singer maintains the crusty vocal style throughout the album’s entirety while the band stays melodic, yet on the edge of doom and sludge. Since there are only 3 songs on this album, I might as well take you on a journey, track by track.
“Sanity is for the Passive” – 12:41
This song does a great job of introducing the album. It hits you hard. The chord progression instantly brings your soul into the dark place. Not long into the song, you get your first taste of the crusty vocals and melodic guitar harmonies. The chord progressions never seem to repeat; thus, keeping it interesting. As for the tempo changes in the song, it is polar-opposite in format from most commercially-friendly music. It goes from fast, to very fast organized chaos, to slow, to very very slow.
Look! I made a chart with MS paint to describe this:
All in all, it was a roller-coaster ride at the beginning but you can go ahead and regain a resting heart rate during the remainder of the song. The song stayed interesting throughout, especially if you throw on the big headphones and listen to the nuances of the guitar and the sludgy bass. I have to mention the lyrics here. This band has very strong lyrics.
I took a little snippet from the last part of the song:
“A dependent stain
In our isolation
We remain reluctant, fawning parasites
Rising, colliding, and raining down”
“Reeling” – 11:53
Blending in from the very slow pace of the previous song, comes a moment of melodic guitar relief. It builds up to a very effective wall of sound coupled with the strong heartbeat of the kick. In the center of the song comes a very ethereal harmonizing guitar line. It’s definitely a highlight for me, I have to say. This is where the melodic death metal shines. And then, before you get to the point of this-is-too-much, they switch it up just in time and the bass kicks in for a wave of perfectly timed heaviness.
“Choked at the Roots” – 19:49
And for the Pièce de résistance, this 20 minute gem. It begins with a bass heavy intro, then the signature melodic guitar enters, and it lasts long enough for the groove to seat itself well within your cerebellum just in time to be interrupted by a high paced crust punk beat. I find that the vocals act as a very necessary element to the rhythm; almost like the vocals are part of the drums. It’s hard not to remain interested throughout the whole 20 minutes. There are elements to draw your attention at every turn. The most interesting part, in my opinion, comes in at the 16 minute mark. How do I put this… Heavy bass, heavy fast drums, melodic guitar, harmonizing guitar, ethereal guitar effects, feedback, noise…. basically the whole album crammed into the last 3 minutes. This is no small feat. The very end of the song, however, feels like a cliff hanger. Something feels unresolved. Intentional possibly?…
And that is my take on Nux Vomica. Most of this was written while listening real-time and becoming progressively more inebriated. I’m not going to lie. This band is good. There are a lot of great elements in it; however, other than the bass and drums switching it up, everything else seems to be a bit static. I absolutely love guitar harmonies and melodic use of chords and I can listen to it all day but I’m also a guitar player so I pick up on those things. I’m sure that many don’t.
And for my very first, very arbitrary rating out of 10, I give Nux Vomica:
It’s been a pleasure. Can’t wait to do this again if I’m not immediately fired….