Melancholy: a feeling of pensive sadness. Synonyms: desolation, woe, sorrow. The word, from its Latin and Greek origins, translates to black bile: too much of which in a person could cause depression. It’s a loaded word, that’s for certain, and it gets thrown around and attached to music cheaply and without much care. Too many words of melancholy’s ilk are over-used; too much hyperbole, drama and imaginative nonsense is bestowed upon average and uninspiring music (I’m also responsible for this sort of thing) and thus certain words, phrases, and images have lost their power completely. Can I justifiably use this language to describe the might and power of this following band? Perhaps not. Nicumo play a metal that holds fragments of this emotional weight, though they present their Finnish sound on a shiny platter of faux-melancholy and despair. Nicumo are a hybridised vessel that emulate the spirit and traditions of Finnish extreme metal to new vistas – these new vistas, however, should perhaps never be reached. Let the storms, um…arise!

Following a warm yet windy atmospheric instrumental of light chimes, electronic arpeggios and faint snare drumming “Old World Burning” burns into being as simple, modern sounding riffs and gruff, constipated snarls emerge. Quickly, the flat opening switches to a tender passage consisting of sweet murmured vocals simmering alongside flittering guitar patterns, hooky basslines, and expressively tender drumming. Quicker than the previous quickly, there’s a reversion back to the gruffness of the opening until a fittingly melodramatic yet powerful bridge and solo brings the song to a rather expected yet uninspiring end. This sort of back-and-fore bassline tennis, consisting of safe forehands to the center of the court, is commonplace.

Third track “Beyond Horizon” possesses a similar hook-laden melancholy as the lulls in second track “Old World Burning.” Here, the epic melodicism and folkish pomposity of modern Amorphis is channeled, though Nicumo can only really lick their proverbial feet from below. Vocalist Hannu Karippinen is at his best, as in this song, when the fragile embers of his low and deep drawl stick to the pensive surface, rather than rocketing into the cosmos and exploding with a plastic aggression. “Unholy War” contains even stronger verse hooks, but these are book-ended by offputtingly simple and overbearing riffs, too clean, overproduced, and chuggalicious.

“Death, Let Go” is a depressive ballad of sorts, tugging at blackened heartstrings with voluptuous melodies and sappy lyrics. For what it is, it succeeds. The atmosphere is well constructed and the build-up to the chorus’ anthemic release of emotion works well. And that’s that; nothing else to hear here. But no, wait! It’s all sweet and clean sounding and going nowhere until the three-minute point. Here, the song explodes into a colorful rage of groove and bluesy soloing. It’s an unpredictable transition that manages to retain the faintest elements of the sadness of the opening in a way that doesn’t make it seem so jarring.

The album doesn’t maintain these twists and turns, and there’s very little else to make a song and dance of. “Guilt” has an uneasy opening that sounds somewhat like Disturbed or Seether combined with the entrance music of a vanilla WWE mid-card heel. Somewhat groovey, somewhat punky, and fitted with gruff shouts and banal chugs, the song possesses an energy of the sloth variety. “If This Is Your God, I Don’t Need One” also has an unpleasant opening that channels the worst of bland modern-rock and post-grunge. It’s about as painful and angry as a cock-eyed duckling wading through daisies and about as naughty as Theresa May running through a field of wheat. Traces of Down era Sentenced, mid-period Anathema, HIM, Katatonia¸ and others of their ilk are faintly audible somewhere in the music. On the surface songs like “Poltergiest” and “Sirens” are appealing, but their mid-paced rock lacks the subtle melodic touches of Anathema and Katatonia. Penultimate track “Ailolos” succeeds where they fail, but it’s all too late by this point.

Eight-minute closer “Dream Too Real” is strong yet out of place in the context of the album. It’s dark and vast melo-death sound emulates Insomnium and Barren Earth, wearing their sound as a mask. Storms Arise is probably the most inconsistent and difficult album I’ve had to review, and with a 57-minute run time there’s a lot to wade through. Inconsistency and flatness, mixed with the occasional outpouring of real musical intent, is the name of the game here, and I cashed out a loooong time ago.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Inverse Records
Releases Worldwide: July 7th, 2017

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  • Wilhelm

    The embedded track is pretty good, for fans of modern Katatonia.

    • welyyt

      Kinda, until the bluesy break. The chorus is pretty good, but nothing compares to modern Katatonia.

      • The Akerstache

        That’s the thing about modern Katatonia. The more I’ve explored, the more I’ve realized there are quite a few bands doing exactly the same thing as them, Nicumo included. They have almost all the ingredients for me to love this.

        Bands like that remind me why I love Katatonia so much. It’s Jonas Renkse. Katatonia’s instrumentation is easily copied, but nearly nobody can touch him as far as he vocals go. He makes Katatonia who they are, and makes every other imitator demonstrably weaker, simply because no one can hold a candle to his voice.

        • Drew Music

          You ain’t kidding. I remember being temporarily traumatized because the first live video of them performing that I ever saw featured a woefully sub-par performance by ole Lord Seth and I had previously believed such things to be impossible. I mean fuck, their discography sees enough styles visited that their fanbase is most likely pretty divided on certain albums/eras, but the only people who could deny the strength of Ambitions’s vocal delivery would be deaf people, dead people, and liars. That plunge back into heaviness with the second “Indecision, sew the seed” has lead to the demise of several earbuds already, and counting.

          • Kronos

            “Aspirations – never within reach”
            You’re one hundred percent correct. What a powerful song, what a fantastic delivery.

          • welyyt

            Departer destroys me.

          • Grymm

            “Departer” is such a sad, powerful song, and a brutal song to close an album to.

            “Journey Through Pressure” is another closer that I love by them.

          • The Akerstache

            Jonas is incredible. I can’t honestly describe what it is about his voice, it feels almost monotone. But instead of being boring and lifeless, it’s instead cold and hopeless, which adds a sick layer of irony to a song called “Ambitions.” He legitimately sings like how I imagine a person who’s accepted death would.

            Dammit, now I’m going to be depressed again.

          • Drew Music

            The great cold depression of Katatonia is best depression.

        • welyyt

          Yeah, his choice of scales and the way he blends his lyrics rhythmically is unmatched, although I think he didn’t reach his prime until The Great Cold Distance; he was a good vocalist before that album, but that’s where he became something else entirely.

          Also, I disagree that their instrumentals are easily copied; maybe the feel and parts of the atmosphere, but ever since they became proggy (TGCD onward), they’ve been doing some pretty crazy stuff rhythmically and structurally, without ever being flashy or self-indulgent.

          What I’m trying to say is, they’re the best.

          • Nag Dammit

            Yeah, the layering of instruments in their modern era is incredible. It’s ultra accessible but endlessly rewarding.

          • The Akerstache

            The way I see it, they’re built around Jonas’ vocal prowess and not their instrumental prowess. They have both, but instead they focus on creating a subtle, dark atmosphere for his voice to thrive in. Take the Nicumo song as an example. They build up a depressing, very Katatonia like, intro. Then they build up to a depressing chorus much like Katatonia. But instead of focusing on the subtlety, they instead go into a ripping guitar solo, which feels completely out of place. Katatonia’s genius is their subtlety. They shine because no single member feels the need to outdo the other, they all do their part to complete a vision.

            That’s the other thing so many bands get wrong, it’s about giving up yourself for everyone else, so the end result can be as good as it can be, even if that means you never get the spotlight. Katatonia is the perfect melding of a great vocalist and a band that plays to that vocalist’s strengths while never trying to overshadow him.

            Goddamn, they really are the best.

          • welyyt

            You’re spot on, except I wouldn’t say that they that they construct the songs around Jonas, as much as they all work as a band; the thing that drew me to them was the structure of Consternation (which is kinda one the simpler songs of the current era). Digging up some interviews now:

            “The song writing process is very individual. Both Jonas and Anders write on their own until having spawned the skeleton that would be the final track at which point ideas might start merging.”

            But yeah, something happened to Renkse between Viva Emptiness and The Great Cold Distance, and he was completely confident with the new style since Night Is the New Day (my favorite at the moment), where he basically became a god among men. I’d die for that guy.

            (Also shoutout to Daniel Liljekvist, whose drumming elevates their music to a whole new level.)

  • Grimstrider

    Was going to post one of those fairly innocuous seeming, yet acidic in retrospect criticisms of this band, but then the embed track lulled me to sleep.

    • Matt slatz

      How can you say that…..that………is…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Name’s Dalton


  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Comparisons to Katatonia (mid to current era) on AMG is genearly a death sentence as nobody can touch the real deal.

  • Aidan Riess

    We gonna be seeing a Decapitated review anytime soon?

  • rumour_control

    “…about as painful and angry as a cock-eyed duckling wading through daisies…”

  • Thatguy

    Sad boy music. Sad boy film clip. Poor little trees.

  • Syn

    They’ve been popping now and again on my playlist for the past few months and, while far from perfect, I quite fancy their melodic choruses. They remind me of simpler times.