Nostromo – Bucephale [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

The onslaught of sound that constitutes Bucephale can be overwhelming. Nostromo lays it on thick, a grind-influenced classic metalcore gallop with thrash and groove for good measure, riffs curb-stomping and pummeling with little reprieve. Revealing that the veteran Swiss quartet features former guitarist Jérôme “Jéjé” Pellegriniand and drummer Maxime Hänsenberger of the renowned grindcore outfit Mumakil makes sense, the immediacy and intensity infused with Bucephale coming to mind. Boasting veteran pedigree, Geneva’s Nostromo was formed in 1996, breaking up in 2005 after a respectable three full-lengths, an EP, and a split. Two EP’s into the revival set in 2016, the quartet has not lost their touch. Yet, for all the pummel, Nostromo is not a one-trick pony1 for their first full-length in eighteen (!) years.

In an admirable team effort, Hänsenberger’s percussion adds a driving mania, bassist Ladislav Agabekov bolsters each punishing rhythm with punishing depth, and vocalist Javier Varela’s rabid barks inject vitriol aplenty, but Jéjé’s riffwork is the true star of the show. Alongside Nostromo grind core,2 influences of Integrity and Bury Your Dead in bouncy climactic breakdowns, tracks like “IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder)” and “Ship of Fools” are sure to get the head bobbing with cutthroat riffs alongside frantic blasts, while the Pantera-inspired grooves of “Lachon Hara” and “In Praise of Betrayal” ooze with swagger amid the incessant grind pace. You’ll find your ears bleeding with the down-tuned fretboard abuse of tracks like “Decimatio” and “A Sun Rising West” atop crushing riffs, recalling the bouncy melodeath influence of Killswitch Engage or Unearth. Djent influence seems intent on corrupting tracks like “Per Sona” and “Realm of Mist” with wonky time signatures and rhythms, recalling Meshuggah’s more punishing moments.

Speaking of Meshuggah, the true test of Nostromo’s mettle is their ability to create truly haunting songs that don’t compromise their, uh, integrity.3 Rhythmically challenging but nevertheless infectious, opener “Ship of Fools” introduces the album with ominous plucking, which later kicks into a punishing groove that dissolves into a plucky half-time portion that introduces the kickassery. This atmospheric quality is not a one-off, mind you. Perfected to a pitch-black degree that recalls Amenra’s Masses, “κ​α​τ​ά​ϐ​α​σ​ι​ς” and instrumental closer “Asato Ma” attain a doom-meets-Meshuggah vibe, sporting hauntingly sharp plucking, colossal polyrhythmic riffs, and contemplative tempos that recall a more atmosphere-forward “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion.” As such, Nostromo’s guitar tone and production are nearly perfect in Bucephale, adding nimble crispness to the grind or metalcore-forward moments, and crushing weight to the slower doom passages.

While “Ship of Fools,” “κ​α​τ​ά​ϐ​α​σ​ι​ς,” and “Asato Ma” provide plenty of food for thought, Nostromo’s emphasis on bouncy kickass riffs makes Bucephale fun above all else. An infectious blend of metalcore, grind, groove, and thrash, with just enough contemplation to show maturity, it’s an album devoted to the concussion. While rock-solid songwriting shows the act’s veteran heart pumping, the willingness to balance head-banging simplicity with rhythmic complexity and cutthroat vitriol. Screaming along with it will make you horse,4 but you’ll love every second.

Tracks to Check Out: ”IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder)” “A Sun Rising West,” “κ​α​τ​ά​ϐ​α​σ​ι​ς

Show 4 footnotes

  1. Sorry, not sorry.
  2. Sorry, not sorry.
  3. Sorry, not sorry.
  4. Sorry, not sorry.
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