Nothingness – Supraliminal Review

Does a new year mean new pursuits? New ideas and new beginnings? Who cares? For me, a new year just means more death metal. As such, I’m starting 2023 off the way our forefathers intended: with a smattering of muck and more than a glaze of grime. With this being my goal, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with the sophomore album from Nothingness, a Minneapolis-based quintet who know how to craft a riff almost as competently as they can choose an album cover. But does their latest platter Supraliminal deliver? Does it scratch that seemingly unscratchable OSDM itch that never ceases to nag? Let’s take a look and see for ourselves. And don’t pick at that. It’ll get infected.

Nothingness studied at the Immolation and Morbid Angel school of classic death metal, majoring in the oldest of olde approach; Think colossal, crunchy riffs, knuckle-dragging growls and mid-paced destruction with tasteful doses of brutal freneticism. They may have also considered minoring in Cannibal Corpse, but that’s not the most interesting part of their higher education. Nothingness clearly had a very weird senior year, filled with several “self-discovery” electives and maybe even a semester abroad. The result? A smidgen of dissonance, a dose of atmospherics, and some off-kilter musical choices that evoke the likes of Voivod. Now, with a bloody sheepskin in hand and a debut album under their belt, Nothingness crossed the stage following a few post-grad studies, eager to get your head banging, your blood pumping and throttle me senseless for extending this tortured metaphor.

Supraliminal features riffs, riffs and then to top it all off, a few more riffs. While it’s easy to point to first track “Curse of Creation” as the prime example, quality riff-craft is on display throughout the record. The refrain on “Catapulted into Hyperspace” (my favorite title so far this year) sounds like what you’d expect to hear as you’re pulled screaming into a black hole. “Beacon of Loss,” meanwhile, boasts hard rock riffage with a thin film of doom that’s beefier than anything you’d find at a cattle convention. From blackened, tremolo wailing to doom-laden drudgery to mildewed OSDM grime, Nothingness has a proven knack for imbuing a riff with blistering life. This strength is augmented by their willingness to include doses of dissonance in unexpected places, adding an uncanny aspect to their arrangements. “Inviolate Viscera” is perhaps the best example of this, with a Voivod-inspired, off-kilter main riff that gives way to a warbly, plucky refrain and a vibraslap out of nowhere. It’s clear Nothingness are comfortable bucking genre conventions, as heard on other tracks like “Horrendous Incantation,” “Temple of Broken Swords” and closer “Decimation Mechanism.”

Unfortunately, a nifty bag o’ dissonant tricks isn’t quite enough to lift Supraliminal to the lofty heights that Nothingness seem capable of. They pack a solid OSDM punch, know their way around a riff and aren’t afraid to introduce some less-than-traditional (for death metal) elements, and yet the end result is still less than the sum of its parts. While I found myself fondly recalling certain sections of certain riffs of certain songs, Supraliminal as a whole felt more like a grab bag of ideas than a unified whole. There are plenty of interesting concepts at play, but they’re arranged in such a disjointed manner that the ultimate product lacks the cohesion necessary to be truly memorable. Tracks like “Curse of Creation” and “Inviolate Viscera” don’t make up for overlong songs like “Temple of Broken Swords” and “Beacon of Loss” or more forgettable tunes like “The Anvil.” It feels like Nothingness are still searching for the kind of band they want to be, and as a result, come off as more uncertain than they’d like.

Nothingness have crafted an engaging but ultimately mixed platter. But as I shared with an aggrieved colleague, I’d rather listen to a strong 2.5 that swings for the fences over a solid but safe 3.0. And that’s ultimately where I come down on Supraliminal: it’s overlong and lacks cohesion, but it’s also truly inspired in places. What’s more, Nothingless have the chops to address these nagging issues, and I’ll be there when they do.

Rating: ​2.5/5.0
DR:​ 5 | ​Format Reviewed:​ 256 kbps mp3
Label:Everlasting Spew Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide​: January 20th, 2023

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