An odd album crept its way onto the Angry Metal promo list in this past month, one that while plenty dark, is far removed from metal, and despite all it’s heavily worded promise, as wholly lacking in anger as I’ve come across in a while. At its most basic, it appears the band couldn’t come up with a decent band name and so took the easy way out, calling themselves Nothing, and the album art, it has a stark hopelessness about it filling me with thoughts that the band are giving up the fight. Right, we’re off to a roaring start! Nothing have two concept EP’s to their name, Sons and Lovers consisting of a single track playing off the D.H. Lawrence novel and Downward Years to Come, 5-tracks dedicated to a range of several poets who took their own lives. Haul out the Prozac for this one, you’re going to need it in a big way!
Right from the first few notes of “Hymn To The Pillory” you’ll pick up that Philadelphia’s Nothing play paint-by-numbers amorphous shoegaze (or should I call it “shoeglaze”). Their hymn to the old whipping post consists of vague, shapeless rhythm strong on melody and subdued vocals with understated lyrics that float oft-times unheard, broken into bite size portions as they change course and try to punish your unsuspecting senses with their ‘wall of sound’ fuzz and distortion. Spending time with the track, you’ll quickly notice that Nothing have a musical backbone that draws elements from albums like My Bloody Valentine‘s Loveless, Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, some instances of Circa Survive‘s Blue Sky Noise (sans Anthony Green’s magic) and at times has a similar laid back feel to Silversun Pickup‘s “Growing Old is Getting Old” or the aptly titled “Draining” from Swoon.
Tracks like “Dig“, “Endlessly”, “Beat Around The Bush” and “B&E” politely deliver dreamy, indistinct melody in the same way as “Hymn To The Pillory.” The tracks are laced with watered down sadness that brings to mind what I view as the least adventurous of Silversun Pickup‘s offerings – Carnavas. Even Nothing‘s fuck you’s are as polite as hell and leave me greedily wishing for more anger… or any hot-blooded outburst really. There’s a little more variety to be had in “Bent Nail,” the track has an old-time familiarity that I can’t quite put my finger on, while at the same time delivering some of Gaslight Anthem‘s much needed rock ‘n roll energy – a welcome surprise. Outside of “Bent Nail” it’s only really “Somersault” that struck me as a stand out. The stark opening brings to mind the atmosphere in the first few moments of Ka-Mmen‘s “Sightless Sky,” but instead of following on in Ka-Mmen‘s and dark and intriguing footsteps, “Somersault” floats along on the slow side, laced with dead space and siren-like guitar work for variety.
Domenic Palermo (Horror Show) does very little to change up his vocal style outside of occasionally raising the intensity slightly or going to the other extreme of sending it to the far reaches of the murk. He favours subdued volume with a strong sense of melody so typical of the tried and tested shoegaze way. Brandon Setta creates a lush, rich instrumental landscape, but he’s played it very safe and the intense could be so much more intense and even adding a twisted drum fill or an oppressive piano interlude would have gone a long way. Going back through Nothing‘s discography, safe is the norm, on an EP it’s less of a hindrance but across 8-tracks you’ll crave something more.
Guilty of Everything was recorded and produced by Philadelphia based Uniform Recording, run by Jeff Zeigler (best known for working with the likes of indie rock bands Kurt Vile and War on Drugs). Zeigler’s gone with a do-it-yourself, under produced, slightly damp sound and with the atmospheric dream-scape Nothing presents, this adds to the hopelessness of the album. Given that this promo had a post-metal tag attached to it I had high hopes of dramatic evolving crescendos, heavy bass and more experimentation – better luck next time I guess.