Nothnegal: Decadence

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Nothnegal: Decadence
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Nothnegal: Decadence
Melodic Death Metal
Season of Mist Records
January 24th, 2012
Release length: 42:21
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Nothnegal hails from Maldives, a country that doesn’t seem to harbor a lot of active Metal acts. Upon a quick search, only a handful of names came up including Serenity Dies. This Melodic Death Metal act formed back in 2006, and in 2009 issued a debut EP themselves entitled Antidote of Realism. Eventually the band sparked the interest of Season of Mist Records, and for 2012 releases the group’s debut full-length effort, Decadence. But does the title of the album really explain what the material here is?

Well, when it comes to the audio here, it definitely feels thick. Decadence isn’t the most crisp offering you can find, which ends up working for the bands more abrasive sound. The entire release simply sounds heavy with a muddier richness that adds to the obvious bass impact. The guitars also end up sharing a bit of a deeper tone that is more traditional to the Melodic Death Metal sound, but still a little deeper, and is accompanied by a strong bass support that adds an additional grounding rhythm to the already melodic hooks. The drums have a loud click to the bass kicks as well that can often sound thunderous, especially when a track just slams forward at the very start such as with “Armageddon.” The rest of the kit basically suits the higher pitch with tight snares and equally loud cymbals. The vocals and keyboards, however, are where this album hurts. While the levels are far from off and both come through without drowning anything out, and in the case of the keyboards sounding pretty clean, these just end up being the least impressive on the performance level.

A lot of time, there’s simply no keyboards present. Sometimes they will show up in various bridges, but for the most part they appear in the chorus. The problem there is that when they do appear, it ends up mostly being really simple chords that often barely add anything to the mix. Again, going back to “Armageddon,” there is a phenomenal performance here in that department that can be felt through much of the song, as well as just feels like there was more motivation for that instrument to do more than simple key patterns in a Science Fiction manner. This song actually ends up being the most impressive of them all because of that and the energy that the band seems to give one another, all of which almost seems to be the reason the vocals here are better. A good majority of the album has a back-of-the-throat rasp style to it, and seems like an additional distortion is involved. Picture a toned down early Immortal sound, but with more edge for a Metalcore act like Lamb of God and you’ll get the general idea of what to expect here. However, with “Armageddon,” it’s like the energy of the music and the performance really pushes the vocalist to put a little more emphasis into things instead of a docile rasp that simply sounds boring and amateurish, although the clean singing that appears on “Sins of Our Creations” turn out nice and suit the somber tone of the album well, showing a great deal of range and a softer tone that suits the melody a lot better than the rasp approach does on some tracks, though having it on this and “Singularity” does end up being a bit of a sudden, abrupt change in the band’s performance.

With all that said, it may seem like Decadence is largely flawed by those two elements, but the overall album really isn’t that bad. While the keyboards could be a little better on many songs, they do still offer some background atmosphere to some tracks that works out well, such as the first song “Salvation.” There is a little energy felt in the vocals as well, but not really that much. The song itself isn’t the most spectacular Melodic Death Metal offering, but overall it ends up being a solid bass-driven song with catchy riffs that often go into a more mid-tempo chugging pace, finding the melody largely in the chorus that is pretty infectious, even with the restrained vocals. But, in all honesty, the more time you spend with the album, they grow on you. Even the keyboards do after a while considering the tone of music that the band is going for.

But, this doesn’t make every song a fantastic venture. It’s the heavier and/or darker tracks that really seem to work out for the atmosphere the band is trying to pull together. “Claymore” is a fine example of a heavier sound working out, moving with a bit of a faster pace and just catchier material all around. The keyboards give it that creepy Science Fiction atmosphere, but the vocals do end up leaving you wanting a little more richness, or even just going straight into a screaming approach similar to modern Arch Enemy considering some similarities between them and this track. “Janus,” however, moves at a varying crushing pace, but it’s mostly concentrated as a slower track. It isn’t too bad, and the vocals do fit to the song through much of the track while the keyboards are restrained more as well to push a truly dark tone to the song. “R.A.D.A.R.” has the same kind of foundation to it, just with a much longer length. Clock in at nearly seven and a half minutes, the slow, trudging pace of the song does stand up well enough to keep the listener content, and some of the underlying creepy keyboards, even additional off-key guitar chords really do make the song a little more intriguing, as well as unsettling at places.

Honestly, there’s only a few tracks here that are truly great, and two of them are the closing tracks that feature clean singing and a nice vocal range. The harsh, rasp approach simply doesn’t work and feels too amateurish, but yet it grows on you since that really is the better alternative here. A deeper guttural or rich shouting approach would compliment this release nice, or just a richer rasp in general would do wonders for the first six songs. Decadence is far from a bad album in any sense, and the music here clearly shows it. Obviously, it does have its faults, but much of those could be solved with growth and practice. For a debut album, this is about what you would expect. The band clearly has found their own sound, and it works well for them to create a unique release. While it may not be the most awe-inspiring Melodic Death Metal effort ever recorded, there is no denying that there is talent and potential here. With a little time, there’s no denying Nothnegal will be able to issue a really impressive full-length album.

01. Salvation – 4:20
02. Claymore – 5:16
03. Janus – 4:24
04. Decadence – 5:34
05. Armageddon – 5:00
06. R.A.D.A.R. – 7:08
07. Sins of Our Creations – 4:41
08. Singularity – 4:34
Overall Score: 6.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Records.