Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sad - Total Nothingness (2006)

Total Nothingness is quite a quandary, an album that inevitably falls flat despite having one of the stronger riff-sets I've heard in all the Hellenic scene debuts in the 21st century. The band's name certainly conjures forth an impression of longing, loneliness, and depression, but the riffs actually bear an understated majesty which is not quite as emotionally draining as I might have expected from the album title. But that said, it turns out to be a rather standard effort for the style, due to a few faults which cripple the solid guitars from greater achievements and a truly memorable impact.

For one, the vocals croak along in a familiar rasped fashion without ever possessing any grisly finesse. Quite primitive, and not without a hint of genuine pain, but ultimately rather flat against the writhing, shifting rhythms, which are quickly ignored for. The drums are solid and organic sounding, but the construction of the tracks feels strangely dry, as if these powerful guitars were going to waste. The transitions are all predictable, and the songs slowly seem to lose energy, despite the inherent catchiness of the guitars. Style-wise, there are clear parallels to old Bathory, Burzum, Mayhem and Darkthrone, but the band never feels quite so genuinely dark as any of those influences, nor do they resemble most of their Greek neighbors, with the exception of a few sparse glories, and the generally tendency towards a mid or slower pace.

It's sort of a bummer, because tracks like "Worthless Almighty" and "Pain" definitely manifest some dark, steady and rolling power rhythms that lurch along like a wall of tears and bones through a desolate plain, sucking up any of the living in their path. "Dark" is likewise strong, at least the guitar itself, which is picked almost as if it were some sluggish, surfing abomination. The band does not stick solely to one tempo, and there are faster, blasted moments present (in "Verschlinger"), but other than the actual construction of the central riffs, the composition feels so jaded and lifeless. I realize that's half the point of such a thing, but never did I feel the ominous terrors of self-loathing and suicide that inhabit the better bands of this particular niche.

In truth, Total Nothingness is not all that 'nothing'. Nihilistic, and perhaps bleak, but there's a betrayal here: a taint of warmth that makes the material more fit for a march than a morgue. Speaking of "Nothing", the closing acoustic outro is entirely dull and useless, and the baby like, freakish samples of the intro "Behind the Door" also feel forced and disjointed from the metal. I will say I liked the band's logo quite a bit, and was fascinated by the minimal moniker they had chosen (much like I was with Sigh in their formative years). But the lyrics are quite plebeian, and Total Nothingness is ultimately an uneven start for the Greeks, one they will admittedly improve upon for future works.

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10]
(the sunrise of my godhating spirit)

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