Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nervous Existence - Reparations

This may not mean anything to most of you out there, but the riff that opens up the first track of this EP, "Terminus" is in a Phrygian Major mode. Musically, it is the equivalent of Peking Duck. Exquisite, exotic, and soooo soooo tasty. It is in fact my favourite mode in the plethora of ways that you can connect notes together. Its Eastern-tinged sense of melody immediately evokes a sense wonderment and awe. And then, about 8 bars in, they throw in a diminished-fifth chord, the penultimate metal-god’s tool of destruction, discord and delight. ORGASM! This guitar was played with The Devil’s fingers. And I love The Devil.

Pretty soon the voice kicks in, suitably demonic in tonality, and it holds its own with any other awesome death-metal voice I’ve heard, independent or commercial. There’s nothing astonishing about it yet I know from trying to do the demon voice myself it’s quite a gift to simply possess it and be able to deliver it.

These guys are certainly gifted in both the songwriting and playing department. Their sense of structure is engaging and thought-provoking, and the music shifts and changes in all the right places to create a beautiful sense of tension and resolution. The dual-guitar riffing never ceases to twist and turn in a multitude of interesting ways, heavy and intriguing, and occasionally breaking out in solos with the beauty of instrumentality that has been truly mastered. All whilst keeping solidly clicked with the rhythm section - the drums and bass - that are great at what I believe they’re supposed to be great at in metal music: keeping time, staying back in the mix, and supporting the more hyperactive attack and counter-attack of the vocals and guitar.

Their sound on this 5-track EP could have been captured better: more bass on the vocals, better drum mic-ing and a bit more compression to give the mix some breathing space, yet there is something beautiful about the slight muddiness of the recording. It takes me back to the days of listening to Darkthrone et. al. who sound like they were recorded with a single mic hanging from the garage ceiling. If not quite that lo-fi, the recording at least captures the essence of that sort of music: immediate and raw.

Great music is always born deep underground, and I feel like the incredible songcraft, musicianship, and attitude of Nervous Existence has just poked its head through the soil, and is looking verdant and healthy. They haven’t flowered yet, but they will, and when they do they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Check out their very professional Myspace page to grab the EP "Reparations". Excellent stuff. If you like Opeth, Lamb of God, or Meshuggah you will love Nervous Existence. And if you haven’t heard of those bands, then it will be a great introduction to truly good metal.

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