Nurser – Nurser Review

If you’re thinking about starting a band, or indeed a record label, try Googling the name you’re thinking of before you fixate on it too hard. You know, ask yourself simple questions, like: “if the millions of fawning fans, which my Seattle, WA deathgrind project will undoubtedly win, actually want to find out anything about the band’s three members, will Googling ‘Nurser’ allow them to do that?”  “How about if they Google ‘Nurser grind’?” Safe search on for that one people! Once you’ve done your due diligence, and picked a searchable moniker, you are then ready to think about establishing a web presence, you know, like a Facebook profile. Or, if you don’t have time for that, you can just press ahead with crushing absolutely everything in sight under explosions of extreme fury and vicious prejudice. Which route did Nurser go?

Well, let’s put it this way: they don’t appear to have social media. On their self-titled debut, Nurser compress all the bile and venom they can muster into 17 minutes of brooding malevolence, punctuated by psychotic outbursts of rage. This combination of down-pace, creeping dread, driven by heavily fuzzed, static-laced guitars paired with savage eruptions of pummeling drums and death riffs, gives Nurser an unnerving unpredictability. Over it all, scream and roar the vocals, sounding like a tortured mind coming apart at the seams. Just as with last year’s Gravesend record, so here the band’s willingness to employ suspense—albeit pretty short-form suspense given this thing is only 17 minutes long—and plodding dread (“Careless”) to make their point gives the whole a rounded feeling, meaning that when Nurser really let go (“Flies”) absolutely nothing is held back and the carnage is completely unrestrained.

There is a nasty blackened edge to Nurser as they lay waste to all about them (“Hands”), which imbues their debut with a sound channelling the likes of Wormrot and Gadget into the tempest. Paced perfectly, and even incorporating something that sounds suspiciously like a melody in a few places (closer “Safety”), Nurser is the corrosive sound of a chaotic mental breakdown. Delivered in fits and starts, with moments of calm lucidity but interspersed with increasingly frequent and violent losses of control. The cascading riffs and raging drums are so frenzied in places (“Fall”) that the next time the tempos drop off a cliff is a necessary and welcome moment to pause and catch your breath. Don’t misunderstand me, however. We are not talking about atmospheric interludes or anything. Tracks like “Soil” may be mid-paced but they are all discordant, feedback-laden threat and hoarse, razorwire roars courtesy of the dual vocals from guitarist Mat Houot and bassist Matt Jahn.

It’s a bit trite to say that Nurser is a tight record. It’s a sub-20 minute deathgrind record, of course it’s tight.  What sets it apart, however, is the writing. It manages the rare feat of sounding longer than it is. That is in no way a criticism of Nurser because the band manage this without the album ever dragging. If you played this record to me with no clock visible, I’d probably have put the runtime somewhere around the 25-minute mark, which is still punchy but shows just how much Nurser manage to pack in. There is a lot going on here but it’s crafted in a skilful way that delivers much more than the sum of its parts. Kris Hutchins’ drumming deserves a special shout out. It is so easy on records like this for the guy behind the kit to fall back simply on outright, manic speed but Hutchins has a deft and progressive touch—it borders on d-beat in places (“Safety”)—that enhances the frenzied riffing, as opposed to merely offering supporting rhythms. Well produced, with a dirty, gritty edge to it, my one gripe with the sound would be that the vocals are perhaps slightly too prominent in the heaviest sections of the record.

I went into Nurser with relatively low expectations. It’s very easy for grind to feel a bit identikit. There are a few must-have markers for the genre and it can feel like bands are happy to include those and then, pretty much, end the creative endeavour there. While Nurser may not be doing anything revolutionary, they have clearly spent a lot of time honing their sound and on crafting well-written songs that are put together in a way that flows and creates a record that I just kept restarting as soon as it finished. I am excited to see where Nurser go from here.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Modern Grievance
Releases Worldwide: March 25th, 2022

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