Nonexist – Throne of Scars (Mighty Music)

Thursday, 15th October 2015
Rating: 8/10

As Arch Enemy changed vocalists last year, the legend of Johan Liiva only seemed to grow. The bolting, burly throat on the first three AE albums (1999’s Burning Bridges being the best), Liiva’s departure was sadly, well-publicized, and carried out in a manner to diminish the man’s accomplishments and supposed lack of “flair.” He may not be the sexiest voice out there (his looks notwithstanding – but who cares about that?), but when on point, he’s one of the better melodic death metal has to offer. The reaffirmation comes by way of Nonexist’s third album, Throne of Scars, which skips past 2012’s iffy My Cold Dead Hands, and slots in right after the band’s marvelous Dues Deceptor debut.

Main musical architect Johan Reinholdz (he of Andromeda fame) has put together a wide swath of jams, many of which are more extreme than what was heard on My Cold Dead Hands. While it looks like Reinholdz has again tapped a drum machine to handle the skin bashing (surely there’s some good, young drummer hanging around in Sweden itching for work like this), his compositions this time out have plenty of zip. “A Promise Unfulfilled” marauders its way around like early-90’s Megadeth mashed upon Stockholm; the buzzing “The New Flesh” peels off some relentless melodies, while the chugging, doom-laden “Cathedrals Beyond” features vocal variation from Mr. Liiva, all wrapped up in an industrial-like atmosphere.

As for Liiva, he’s working with clean vocals on “Pyroclastic Cluster Torment,” firing off words at a bonsai pace on “Before the Storm Takes Me,” and overall, finding his dogged groove. He’s just too easy to spot to be misused in any context, something Reinholdz had to of kept in mind while penning the nine songs that comprise the album. And with that, Nonexist continues to ever-so grudgingly move forward, still totally overlooked, yet much in the forefront of those who are up for a challenge within the confines of melodic, brutal death metal.

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