Review Summary: Derivae will swallow you whole.
There is an endless quality to the mazes of jagged guitar riffs and polyrhythmic drumming found in abundance on Nero Di Marte’s new monster of an LP. Derivae
never wastes time cheaply rehashing or repeating ideas, mainly being comprised of long, drawn out musical passages punctuated by endlessly shifting dynamics and no shortage of new musical ideas, twisting and falling through darkened passages of some of the most bizarre sounds and imagery ever put to recording all year. While much of the record is full of aggressive guitar riffs and tremolo picking, light textures are in abundance throughout, mainly in the form of extended intros and interludes within the monolithic tracks themselves. Derivae
manages to stand out from its impressive predecessor, surprisingly doing away with much of the inaccessibility and repetitiveness characterized by the self-titled debut. Guitar riffs, drum beats, and vocal styles are almost constantly changing, and sections within each track rarely repeat themselves.
Influences from bands such as Ulcerate and Neurosis are apparent, but while they were more obvious on the debut, Derivae
makes use of much more diverse components and ideas. At times heavy and discordant, other times calm and meditative, it manages to restrain itself just enough to avoid being overwhelming. This is lended to an overall restraint of crushing brutality and opting instead for a hypnotic blend of post-rock meanderings and experimental dissonances. Album opener “L’eclisse” begins with unsettlingly grim opening guitar leads, but their calm and brooding nature quickly transitions into much heavier territory with tremolo guitar picking and chaotic off kilter drumming.
“Pulsar” exhibits atmospheres and shifting dynamics almost constantly. It also contains one of the best examples of the change of vocal styles in Derivae
, surprisingly opting for moments of clean singing and calming atmospheres before gradually building the intensity and speed until suddenly ending. While the vocals have managed to diversify and make a more lasting impact than on the debut, the lyrics remain largely mysterious and unconventional, centering on otherworldly and celestial imagery. Swedish band Meshuggah’s shadow looms over the lyrical themes, centering largely on the otherworldly and supernatural. “Eyes as our time here ends one sneers - one opens. You've returned. The eyes of Dis are mine.” “Undo what was done, the beasts emerge beneath the stone from deeper than what we recall. So unfamiliar, we are deluded insignificance with empty thoughts and empty faces. We are fixated on our invention, and erect imperial walls of design.”
Nero Di Marte’s knack for writing meaningful and poignant lyrics can be easily linked with their stark and visceral wall of sound, even if the vocals are often difficult to interpret.
Album closer “Those Who Leave” is Nero Di Marte’s most significant achievement yet. Running at over ten minutes long, it delicately weaves together all components of the album while simultaneously bringing its contrasting elements to an apocalyptic and stunning end. Guitar riff after riff follow each other, building and exploding into intensity before calming down again for one of the greatest and most dynamic guitar leads of the album. It continues to build in atmosphere and intensity until ultimately descending into spacial effects and atmospherics. “Those Who Leave” saves Derivae
from collapsing beneath itself. While other albums of this nature could easily contradict itself beneath its own lofty ambitions, “Those Who Leave” instead introduces even more new sounds and riffs while representing the album as the eerie, colossal experience that it is until fading Derivae
back out of existence, as monumentally and mysteriously as it appeared.