Nonexist – From My Cold Dead Hands (Pivotal Rockordings)

Wednesday, 27th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Lost in the melodic death metal onslaught that came and went in the early 00’s was Nonexist’s 2002 Dues Deceptor. The product of Andromeda guitarist Johan Reinholdz, then recently-exiled Arch Enemy singer Johan Liiva, and Dark Funeral drummer Matte Modin, Nonexist was a technical, albeit easily digestible melodic death metal ensemble, supercharged by Reinholdz’s inventive leads and Liiva’s heralded bark. Because Arch Enemy got all the press because of the flashy looks of Angela Gossow and In Flames’ burgeoning commercial appeal, Nonexist flamed out rather quickly, garnering a small, but devoted cult following.

Fast-forward ten years, and Reinholdz and Liiva are back with From My Cold Dead Hands, a digital-only (yargh!) release. Minus the computer element on the drums (yargh again), From My Cold Dead Hands is a more visceral extension of its predecessor, with Reinholdz laying the tarp for songs that take the brutality baton (see: “Flesh Falls From the Bone”) and run with it. The guitarist hasn’t lost his melodic touch, though, with spiraling guitar lines and lush clean intervals heading up “Dark and Tortured Universe” and “Lost in Darkness and Confusion.”

Liiva’s other band Hearse has been inactive since 2009, which might lend reason to believe the man’s vocals aren’t in tip-top shape. At times he falls off pace with the music, lacking the sort of rhythmic beauty that made him such a force on Arch Enemy’s Burning Bridges. The Swede does employ a variety of vocals throughout the album’s ten tracks, even tossing some clean vocals on “Collective Coma.” He still sounds very mid-90’s-ish (which is a good thing), so not all is lost with AE’s long-forgotten former singer.

Shaking off the rust proved to be difficult for Nonexist, even in light of the superlative talents of Reinholdz and Liiva. From My Cold Dead Hands certainly does not top its predecessor, nor is it in the same league, so we’ll brand this one as a product of the sophomore slump…a slump that took ten years to take place.

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