Nux Vomica – Nux Vomica (Relapse Records)

Tuesday, 8th April 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Nux Vomica – the words just turn in your stomach. This sickly name sounds like the band made it up, but they actually named themselves after a poisonous nut tree. Really, what’s a better name for a gruesome death metal band from the woodsy regions of Maryland/Oregon, US, than a lethally poisonous nut tree? Nux Vomica take extracts of doom, sludge, punk, crust, and black metal, and blend them into one rich, full-bodied tincture bottled in a psychedelic atmosphere – they call it Nux Vomica.

Opening the album with intense fury, Nux Vomica express their fantastic recklessness with “Sanity is for the Passive.” Of course, there is nothing sane about this insanely addictive piece. It will literally have you hearing voices in your head, a three minute-or-so interval of muttered delusions to be more precise, you’ve been warned. In “Reeling,” there’s a moment when you may think this well-balanced between melodic and chaotic song is coming to an end, but au contraire, its full-throttle mayhem hasn’t yet begun. Following a short breath of stillness accompanied by muffled pulsations of bass, the last few minutes reel with a great furor of lively instrumentals and vocals shredding with precision.

Prominently demonstrated in the third and final track, “Choked at the Roots,” these guys are whizzes when it comes to manipulating sound for high quality, finely detailed, mysterious obscurities in their music. “Choked at the Roots” is a solid showing of their musical dexterities. Beginning with a groovy and enchanting intro containing choir samples slowed down and played in reverse with a good old-fashioned 4-track cassette player, it also features Tim’s stunning ebow distortions, Chris’ sharp guitar riffs swollen in the reverb/delay of a volume pedal, and a bowed china cymbal to ensure all empty space is filled with the deepest resonation.

Even in smooth measures with slow tempos, not one degree of their massive intensity diminishes. Nux Vomica are not pretending to know music as some bands do, they only play metal with expertise. They’re gnarly, insidious, wicked, and ingenious. Don’t hesitate to take on the tunefully intoxicating cycles of Nux Vomica.

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