Nucleus Torn: Golden Age

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Nucleus Torn: Golden Age
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Nucleus Torn: Golden Age
Avante-Garde, Folk Metal
Prophecy Productions
November 25th, 2011 / January 31st, 2012
Release length: 48:51
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After some rather impressive new and collected material through Prophecy Productions, Nucleus Torn returns once again with Golden Age. The band’s fourth full-length was issued overseas for a late 2011 release according to sources on-line, but North America was set for an early 2012 date, of course. With plenty of kind words being spoken about this effort at this point, fans of Avant-Garde material, or just Folk music in general seem to have something to look forward to with this release if they have been made aware of the band’s existence up to this point. But, does this overly acoustic piece really carry the beauty that made their last album and underground sensation?

Golden Age has a decent higher quality production to it, though the sound is far from a masterpiece. It’s clear that the music has been recording in top-notch studio, as when the songs manage to build up outside of the heavily acoustic pieces, it does become much louder and booming in comparison, having a nice clarity to it that you might expect of larger acts in the Metal world. The violins shine superbly with a stunning clarity that often captures the compassion in the performance, and the female vocals sound great when performed with emphasis during this richer sections. However, in the slower, more docile moments of the album, they can take on a bit of a generic sound, which isn’t much of a surprise thanks to the sensation of an intimate, unplugged environment. The electric guitars sound strong and add a nice edge to things when the material picks up, and the bass does a great job at backing the guitars up to make everything come off heavier. But, during the slower passages, everything clearly feels softer, but with that comes a bit of a hollow sound to the guitars, as well as vocals that really sound amplified much louder than they should be, creating a bit of a clashing sound between them. The drumming here can also be a bit too loud for its own good during these slower passages. The cymbals never do get too dominant in volume, and the same goes for the loose, thicker sounding snares. But the bass kicks have a pretty obvious click to them, and really dominate the softer passages when they come into play, such as during “Hunger,” thanks largely to the volume being as loud as the vocals.

This sort of audio doesn’t hold up too well for this release, considering it’s nearly fifty minute length over six songs. “Golden Age” kicks things off with a largely softer track with only a few booming moments. The song builds at a snail’s pace sometimes, but when it does hit the richer material, it sounds fantastic. But the slower elements are far from fantastic, and can even become rather boring. The soothing clean singing isn’t really anything special, and the only time the music starts to really become impressive is when the violins and other non-traditional instruments are implemented to create an atmosphere to the obvious intimate performance setting, but this largely happens towards the end, leaving much of the start to just feel bland and come off uninspiring. However, “Death Triumphant” really pushes the exception to that rule here. The song itself carries a much heavier foundation, as well as includes a saxophone to the mix. The song feels very powerful in a completely different manner, and much of the band’s Folk Metal tendencies can be felt here, as well as a bit of the Avant-Garde sound outside of the mixture of acoustic pieces with various heavier moments listeners will find on shorter tracks. The richness of the music works in favor of the already booming vocals, leaving this one of the more invigorating cuts of the album that shows the talent the group has.

Of course, with “Golden Age” really being a rough start to the album, it leaves the shorter tracks to really pic up the slack, and overall, they can do a good job. “Silver” doesn’t quite have a strong beauty to it, but it just feels a lot more passionate. The piano performance on this song is great, feeding into the more intimate sound of the release, and the male vocals are about the same volume as the female clean singing, but it offers up a little more range and even alters how loud they come to in the performance a lot better in comparison. You can definitely feel a little more emotion here that works well with the song, and the accompanying violins that show shortly after the song’s start really start building up the emotion quickly in the song, eventually stopping rather abruptly as if the end of the song, only to shift into something that feels little more comfortable to the atmosphere the group is really trying to portray here it seems. The pianos soon play over some drums that are not too bad, though the bass kicks still stick out like a sore thumb. The third and final instrument for much of this becomes the bass, giving off an old, smoke-filled night club sound, eventually finding additional female vocals that vary from impressive to not quite through the performance, all the while clearly trying to fit in with the environment being created. This is easily one of the better songs off the release despite some of the aforementioned issues.

Aside the issues with the audio and some of the blander songs, the only other problem that really shows up is when the band does try to become too heavy and incorporate too much of an Avant-Garde sound. While being a little more intense, as well as off-the-wall helps out in this style, it doesn’t really do much to save “Against.” There are some impressive moments of passion to be felt among some of the richer, and even softer material, but the band does seem to go into some faster, heavier riffs at various times, and it just doesn’t suit the atmosphere being build up through the album, especially in these shorter songs. It doesn’t exactly feel like filler material, but there’s nothing too awe-inspiring about it and makes you wish the band had some restraint like the other songs instead of just losing focus all of a sudden to music that feels more like a HIM song mixed with an Indie Rock bass performance of Punk Rock speed. Thankfully this is short-lived, and only hits around the two-minute twenty second mark, but for it being the most obvious of Avant-Garde material present on the album, it does not do the band justice in any way. But, when the acoustic emotion is interrupted for “Ash” with various moments of nicely times heaviness and darker tones, you’ll be a little happier that the band does keep this element around. These passages are short, but very sweet, pulling out the group’s Folk Metal sound well, and offers up a little variety to the mix.

Golden Age simply is not one of the band’s better outings, but at the same time it isn’t the worst offering to any Folk genre. Yes, the music can get pretty stagnant at times, though the shorter tracks can make good use of it for the most part, but the overall album doesn’t necessarily have any filler material, though in the case of “Golden Age” one could argue padding to make it last a little longer. But, the intimate atmosphere is here, though there are very few tracks that capture the beauty or passion that Nucleus Torn brings with them. Golden Age is not going to win over any new fans, and even the existing ones won’t really find themselves embracing every track, but when the group does manage to get everything to work together for the sake of tone, atmosphere, and fluidity from start to finish, it ends up being very impressive, and well worth taking a quick spin to hear, if at the least to sample what is being offered here.

01. Golden Age – 12:02
02. Hunger – 4:53
03. Silver – 5:30
04. Against – 7:26
05. Ash – 7:06
06. Death Triumphant – 11:55
Overall Score: 6.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Prophecy Productions.