Review: S/T - nullingroots
Released: 4 October 2014
I’ll admit, this album is by far the heaviest I’ve chosen to review, and it won’t be for everyone. Black metal influences such as blast beats are still something of a rarity in the post-rock realm, but I think they have their place under the umbrella as much as anything else within the musical spectrum. With that being said, I think it’s a fool’s errand to get all soap-boxy about it. People have their own tastes. So I’ll just focus on what’s important and why I started this blog in the first place, which is this: This is good music. I really like this. I’d like to share this with you.
Right from the very first notes on the first track, “Scraping the Red of the Skyline”, Nullingroots establishes that before anything else, they are a metal band. Textural guitars careen atop frantic blast beats, giving a good example of the black metal influence prevalent throughout the bulk of the band’s self-titled full length. Roughly halfway through the track, the listener is allowed some room to breathe with a quieter, more ambient passage before being thrust back into the previous din of guitar and drums.
“Credence of Despair” offers more of what was heard on the opening track, but also features some variance. This is the first track to feature a guitar solo, and even offers some surprisingly sludgy riffs before transitioning into the floating intro of the next song. While “Sanguine Passage” does return to the black metal fold again after its pleasant, chiming intro, the parts the listener takes away are the more subdued and melodic passages offered in between, which build into louder (and still great) things.
By this point in the record it becomes clear the juxtaposition and mixture of black metal’s more “abrasive” elements and post-rock’s atmospheric attributes are never at conflict with each other, and instead work only to complement each other. This remains consistent throughout the record’s remaining tracks as well. The trudging march to the end of “Light Dweller”. The clean, melodic intro and howling, shoegazy, reverb soaked guitar on “Melodies”. The blasts and sudden twists and turns on “A Willful Shift”. Nothing sounds out of place, despite being so different. Because of this, the whole album plays out in a way that lets you drown in it, be jarred by it, lulled by it, and get lost in it.
I will say “The Optimist” is, hands down, my favorite track on the record. I don’t say that about many 14 and a half minute songs, but I’ll say it about this one. It explodes on impact before weaving in and out of numerous sections, each with their own distinct feel that make the track move with an almost symphonic aspect of storytelling.
I made a point to write this review without comparing, or even mentioning Sunbather by Deafheaven until the very end, since anyone who listens to both will undoubtedly hear the similarities anyway. Some might also even hastily (and I think wrongly) claim Nullingroots are somehow trying to “cash in” on the massive success of Sunbather. However, I don’t believe this to be the case as the band began as a solo endeavor with two other full lengths and an EP in the same musical vein with a clear progression toward where the current band’s sound is on this record. The bottom line is I really, really like what Nullingroots are doing, and I’m excited to hear how they continue to progress not only their own sound, but the sound of this particularly heavier side of the genre as a whole.
You can purchase Nullingroots’ debut self-titled full length through their Bandcamp by naming your own price.
You can check out all of the albums I’ve reviewed so far on The Big List o’ Reviews.