Burning the midnight oil and squeezing in before the review deadline… Chris Cleo reviews the debut offering from Belfast M2TM runners up Nømadus
There is no moment in a band’s history that echoes louder than the first full-length album, where Belfast’s proggy-groovy-pseudo thrashy Nømadus come out swinging with ‘Axis Primordial’. After a couple of rather mature singles in the form of ‘Apex Breath’ and ‘Dawn of Darkness/Silent Dusk’, Nømadus show that they’ve been cooking up a real hefty offering of a debut, with 9 songs clocking in at a healthy 50 minute run time. Obviously ‘Axis Primordial’ is here to make a statement – and with so many bands coming out with really overlong, bloated albums – an average song length of around 5-6 minutes is usually the first red flag you’d see, coupled with this only being the bands third release, you might think they blew their load too early with the first LP.
Thankfully this isn’t the case. Nømadus really manage to capture their mix of groovy heavy riffs and melody in the form of various structures of different lengths. Admittedly when I hear the label ‘groove metal’ being thrown about I immediately think of what happened to 80’s thrash bands in the 90’s (Sepultura/Testament/Anthrax – you know what I’m talking about), but while I have to admit I’m a complete stranger to the world of groove metal, I’m glad this was the passage. Opener Last Words of Wisdom bounces between vast open chords and chunky open string/bass drum synced riffs, taking all the elements of Nomadus’ sound and mashing it all into one piece. The tempo picks up at the end to come full circle to a satisfying, melodic ending, where the following track ‘Apex Breath’ follows suit with the same burst of energy. Whilst only a fraction of the total run time, these little higher tempo parts keep this album from falling into the same part of my brain that I’ve stuck older Machine Head in, which I’d admit I’d struggle to listen to for the whole album’s duration.
Other notable moments include the intro to ‘Paradox (Nerve Burn)’ – which is the most thrashy the record gets – and the epic tracks ‘Pounding Curse’ (shamelessly admit I love the pop-punk sounding intro) and ‘The passage’ with its brilliant melodic verses. What ‘Axis Primordial’ does really well is taking the core elements of Nømadus’ heavy sound and presenting them in loads of different song structures. I usually stay away from bands that label themselves as prog because the term is usually used to try and justify a pretentious wanky mess, but ‘Apex Primordial’ is mature and interesting whilst actually having some soul at the same time (rare huh…) The guys are clearly competent enough instrumentalists and songwriters to pull off epic complex passages whilst having some empathy for a listener, bringing nice melodies or crushing heavy riffs and vocals. Of particular note is the instrumental track Hadean; a beautiful piece that makes good use of sampled sounds and effects. The track serves as a fluid transition into the following ‘The Ultimate Fuse’, but is a perfect example of Nømadus showing off their pallet of colours.
If you were to tell the me of a couple weeks ago that I’d be enjoying spinning a groove metal album I’d have probably laughed you out the room, but Nømadus really just seem to speak to the fraction of myself that needed to experience their album. As much as I’d jump at the most rabid destructive death or thrash on the market, I can appreciate a good melody (and I know heaviness when I hear it) – and what Nømadus have offered is a really solid offering of their sheen of metal. Whilst definitely the furthest thing from their Last Words, I know that ‘Axis Primordial’ is one of the more refined albums that has come out of the UK metal scene.
Nømadus – Axis Primordial is out tomorrow on all the normal streaming services as well as BANDCAMP