Nux Vomica's self-titled 3rd LP is a fantastic amalgamation of many genres, including the likes of stoner rock, sludge metal, post rock, crust, and grind. It combines terrific atmosphere, excellent instrumentation, and phenomenal production. The riffs are memorable, and the song structures are progressive with their multiple crescendos and multi-layered instrumentation.
The opening track “Sanity Is For The Passive” spitefully talks down on society's follow the leader mentality. People are drowning in their own mimicry of those around them. The politically and socially charged lyrics are wonderfully acidic. The song, and the album, bursts out of the gate with a mountainous, low-end riff. Tremolo riffing and ferocious drumming joins the mix and tension builds up until the song transitions into a feedback-laden doom passage backed with Neurosis-esque tribal drumming and a haunting background conversation. It ends with acidic vocals being spat at the listener as the slow-burning riffs die out.
The second track “Reeling” covers much more personal territory, following an unnamed mans descent into self-destructive tendencies and ultimately his demise. The lyrics seem a little out of place as they lack the political bite of the first and last tracks, and the personal territory covered seems melodramatic. The track is the most atmospheric on the the album. An acoustic intro leads into sludge riffs with the gorgeous rhythm guitar above the the riffs and the dirty bass grooving below. Quieter instrumentation follows as the lead guitar dies out, the bass grooves on. The lead guitar kicks back in with vivid, bright tremolo riffs over the groove. The vocalist screams out in low-in-the-mix, black metal vocals. A haunting riff follows and the instrumentation explodes again. The song finishes off with the catchiest riff on the album and pummeling double-bass kicks.
The final track “Choked At The Roots” tells a tale of the decay of modern humans as love, compassion, and sharing are suppressed by mistrust, greed, fear, and envy. It's political and social message is cut and dry with little humor, but well written. The song begins with a bass groove, but pieces of instrumentation pile on until the song bursts open. A maelstrom guitars, drumming, and howling follows. This dies out into another bassline surrounded by creepy, noisy static. Tribal drumming slowly picks up momentum under screeching, cascading guitars. The song switches gears into quick drumming and a catchy riff. The guitars then switch to battling tremolo riffing over the groove. This crescendos until static and doom riffing close out the album.
Everything on this album sounds great. The bass guitar has that tumescent quality seen in stoner acts. The guitars are eerily gorgeous, especially the rhythm guitar. The doom and sludge passages highlight the crunchiness, enormity of the low-end bass and lead guitars. The drumming also packs a wallop on the lower-end. On the other hand, the guitars sound great during the blackened tremolo-picked passages, the cymbals crash loudly, and the snare drum sounds crisp.
The vocals never really amount to anything fantastic compared to the rest of the extreme metal world. They are, however, very human and filled with aggression and angst. The one moment in the album where the vocals blew me away was at the end of “Sanity Is For The Passive”. It was absolutely throat-shredding and ear splitting.
The album moves at a great pace. The classical and post metal structure of the whole album keeps a fantastic pace. No riff, movement, or atmospheric moment drags on too long. The acoustic moments feel right at home and come nowhere close to being gimmicky.
This LP was an under-recognized gem from 2014. Even with all of its post rock and atmospheric troupes, I could not help but headbang and stomp my feet the entire time.