Nahaya – Vital Alchemy (Rockshots Records)Sunday, 30th May 2021
Featuring members from a variety of Texas metal acts (most notably bassist Semir Özerkan with Oceans of Slumber), Nahaya have been active since 2014 and released two previous Transcendence EP’s in 2018 and 2020 respectively. Continuously honing their chops through live work, Vital Alchemy is the follow-up release – a seven-track exploration of the band’s diverse outlook on the melodic death/thrash sound, intertwining a mixture of influences stateside and worldwide with promising potency and addictive qualities.
The marriage of aggression and melody often occurs in unique combinations song to song – clean singing against tremolo picking or hyper blast beats, or twin guitar runs against some caustic screams/growls. The 88 second acoustic-driven “Madness of Maenads” instrumental represents a calm, serene start before the heads down bulldozer thrash/melodic death rhythms and dual roar/clean voices of Carl Elfin Ford take over on “Deific Mask”. The guitar work intertwines aspects of the Scandinavian melodic death movement like Arch Enemy and At the Gates, but then you’ll hear a slide guitar to open “Incubator” along with 90’s style alternative/atmospheric vocals that showcase their Texas/US open minded approach to things. It’s never easy to maintain brutality and melody even in a thrash/death context, but this quintet really achieves that perfect balance, constructing material that makes sense part to part to maintain interest while headbanging and slamming away. The lead breaks are fluid, exquisite, and serve up another catchy aspect – but Nahaya knows best how to find that undeniable catchy main riff, build upon it, and hammer home the metal appeal as closer “Aghori Fries” and the title track achieve.
The only criticism may be the fact that at 25 minutes and change, Vital Alchemy would have been that much stronger with another song or two to flesh out the proceedings. Although it’s probably best to leave consumers wanting more, and you can’t get much better in the melodic death/thrash sweepstakes for your hard-earned cash than what Nahaya delivers here.