One thing going for Ad Nauseum is it’s raw hopelesness and mechanical presence, the latter a constant even without the industrial or electronic elements active. The remorseless audio quality creates a vast black and white image of stone cold machinery and dystopian rule that compliment the sludge and darkened hardcore performances in a way that can send chills right down your spine similar toGog‘s album Ironworks or what Corrections House accomplish on their recent efforts. The vocals are often as abrasive as sandpaper, the guitars rich with static and other noises, the bass guitar loud and downtuned, and a slightly distant drum kit tears through with a hint of manufactured washout on occassion that, from time to time, oddly works in favor of the atmosphere the band is striving for with this release.
However, while the band perfectly captures the ambience, the music can be another story. Ad Nauseum tries to cram a lot into its four songs, as well as other tidbits such as grindcore and doom metal, and it doesn’t always work in their benefit, leading to odd segways and poor execution that appears avantgarde in nature, but comes off all wrong. “Futility” is a good example of this. While the doom traits creep along and are impressive with how dismal an environment they create, it’s forsaken around the three-and-a-half minute mark with over industrialized blast beats and incredibly deep chords from the stringed instruments that literally turns the once doninating pacing into an explosion of noise, one that comes out of nowhere and feels out of place, especially considering the radio static noise that concludes the song. It seems more like a temper tantrum than anything all that important to the piece itself.
Then again, this is probably due to how well the first song on the EP does everything that track sets out to do without the random burst of energy. “Walls” introduces a mixture of what sounds like bugs chirping in a static-like inferno, dropping in with the aforementioned doom aspect through incredibly slow chords and drum beats that trudge along, even when the pace picks up by a minute in. Additional effects are thrown in as things pick up and vocals are introduced, creating a nightmarish droning that seems to continue building, but often is signaled only by the background sounds or volume in which the instruments come through until it all grinds to a crawl once more by three-and-a-half minutes. This one actually does a fantastic job at setting up the world listeners will encounter on this release, as well as acting like an extensive introduction. The only thing worth noting is the reliance on higher pitch tones throughout that can lead to a mild headache, especially if sensitive to such frequencies. Even “Locked In” tones the speed of that blast beat section from “Futility” down to create something far more relative to the tone of the release, not to mention quite infectious.
Sadly, “Slalom in the Public River” ends on a mixed bag. The track starts off great by playing up the band’s strengths when it comes to the slower material, though the slam/breakdown about four minutes in is absolutely atrocious. Again, we’re met with a similar issue “Futility” carried. The music itself leading up to this point is actually genuinely engaging to where it becomes something of a trance enducing hymn. But, once that’s interrupted just past the half-way point, you are greeted with heavy washout effects on the crashes, simple chords, and various ear-piercing squeels in the background that vary in volume and placement. It’s like that time of obedience is rewarded with a grand mal seizure, leaving you to feel the payoff was not at all worth getting wrapped up in.
All that said, Ad Nauseum actually has a lot going for it as far as the band’s foundation and musical direction goes. Florida’s Ad Nauseum have a good idea where to go with their blend of doom metal, hardcore, and sludge elements, and that’s what really shines on this release. The additional industrial elements often stand as too distracting from the natural cold and mechanical environments that were already produced naturally by the vocals and instruments, and the introduction of blast beats in any form just sounds like it’s tacked on, even if there’s a point to it. Truthfully, if there ever was a “doomcore” style to exist, Ad Nauseum is something you could easily consider the blueprints for, or at least one of the sets for it. Hopefully the band continues to grow and nurture that part of their sound, and drop the additional elements that seem more like a mess of filler than anything productive to the final product.