One of the most rewarding opportunities afforded by the illustrious Angry Metal Promo Bin is its infinite plethora of unknown offerings, hitherto undiscovered caches of metal possibilities. Whittling down this inconceivable mass of band names and album titles into something manageable is a thing impossible, but a few tried and trve tricks have turned out to typically treat me terrifically. First off, mononym monikers jump to the top. Motherslug, Hobosexual, and Pillorian all know what’s up. Next, intriguing album titles get first dibs. Terraforming, Sidereal Light : Volume One, Lamentations of the Chaos Omega… I know, I know, books and covers and all that, but I strive for purpose in my madness and so far, the system works. I mean, just look at those name drops. Feeling engaged, yet? Good, hold on to that. Depending on how sludgy you like your black metal and how stocked up on Adderall you are, this might be the last time Nest‘s debut Metempsychosis is able to have that effect on you.
Now that your eyes have been properly de-wooled, it’s only right that I further twist the knife and reveal that Nest sound nothing like anything I listed. In actuality, these Kentuckians resemble something closer to the bastard offspring of Satanic Warmaster and Dead is Dead, taking traditional black metal stylings (as opposed to “weeny atmospheric emo-black”) and dragging them through deep, dark sludge. At times the music is a seething maelstrom of trve, grim malice, while other moments find the listener slowly drowning in thick, Neuros-ish mud. Nest do a fine job at summoning sounds from the aural shadows in which they dwell, and it should be noted that the overall sound and performance of the duo gets the coveted Seal ov Muppet Approval®. Skinsman/screamsman Corey Stringer’s black metal shrieks and screeches compliment Kyle Keener’s creations quite well, and on paper Metempsychosis seems like another win for the system.
It’s true that Nest are a more than capable lot who make good-sounding metal, but an album cannot live on sound alone. To really thrive, an album needs direction and focus, a sense of purpose in each musical moment, and this is where Metempsychosis sets a Sir Mix-a-Lot trap: the band sounds great, BUT(T) the album itself is often rather unengaging, its songs suffering from a tendency to wander aimlessly for just a little too long in between its more rewarding passages. This unfortunate phenomenon occurs most frequently in the strange, sludgier sections of Metempsychosis, such as those found in “Life’s Grief” or “Jewel of Iniquity,” where some highly enjoyable Fistula-esque dementia is overtaken by psych-doom droning that absolutely does not care about your attention span. For every step forward that Metempsychosis takes, it spends far too much time gathering its breath and admiring the scenery before it resumes marching onward, prolonging and weakening what should otherwise be an exciting journey.
The fact that this particular journey is not a particularly long one only makes its stale points that much more frustrating. Thirty-three minutes broken up into nine tracks looks as good on paper as everything else here, but both thirty second throwaway bookends make that math a little deceptive for one, and stretching the final proper track “Life’s Grief” into a ten minute affair certainly does the adventure’s climax little good. I’m all for using musical space to breathe or else build tension and gather strength, but timing is a key to metal glory that I just don’t feel like Nest have found quite yet. Considering the able performance of both artists and the conceptual ambition evident in the thematic flow of the album, it’s a shame that a colorful albatross came from the Nest, instead of the ebony eagle of sludge metal that I suspect this band is capable of spawning in the future. Where this is only the bands first full-length, however, it’s entirely possible that the second time’ll be the charm. For now, I’ll opt for hesitant optimism and keep my fingers crossed.
By all means, don’t arbitrarily pass this one over for its less than glowing review and subsequent score. This is coming from someone who awarded metal’s highest honor to a funeral doom band, though, so consider yourself good and warned when I tell you that the album drags. Nest create a lot of cool sounds, and they do so often enough that I’ll probably revisit this a time or two, but I can’t in good conscience consider Metempsychosis to be a great album when it feels so tedious to endure. Here’s to hoping that next Nest is best Nest.