Review Summary: Two talented bands showing off what makes their sounds similar, but drastically different at the same time.
Old Soul and nic are from very different parts of the world, but both could be musical kinship in more ways than one. Old Soul hail from Michigan and nic hail from Pizen, Czech Republic. Both are touring together in Europe right now and both tend to occupy similar genre spaces, especially shoegaze and black metal. Old Soul sounds a bit cleaner with heavier walls of sound and more hopeful slower segments, while nic slide toward a more distorted approach overall, using louder droning qualities.
For their newest split record, both bands put out similar two song structures. nic attack their side with their longest track clocking in at just under fifteen minutes and a shorter salvo clocking in just short of seven. Old Soul flip the script a bit with a slightly shorter set, led off by a short lead-in track titled Lens which is under four minutes in length, followed by their twelve minute epic, Emerald. Despite the opposite spin on the listing, both put out similar sides in sound quality.
Old Soul’s segment is a slightly stronger in my opinion. The short opener, Lens, is a powerful sprint to the finish line. Feedback laden guitar and bass lines kick off the track early, with vocals bursting through beautifully. Lens is Old Soul’s hardest song to date, also probably their most distorted. There is an especially memorable breakdown near the end that makes way for a powerful contrast towards the fast ending. Lyrically the opener seems to discuss the feeling of impending death. Lyrics such as “I would rather die than be pristine” and “I am not afraid, I swear I’m not” suggest a sense of fearful calm about the act.
Emerald is Old Soul’s magnum opus though. The opening is as ethereal as ever, led by soft drums that barely register and pretty guitar picking. About two minutes in, a heavy riff and clean screams bust through the door and change the song into something drastically different. The song never loses a sense of beauty though, utilizing slow chord progressions that never get tiring and only add to the soothing ethereal sense of calm. The whole track plays like a roller coaster, speeding up just to slow the whole ride down. This process happens three times, getting more pummeling and softer every single progression. The last two minutes slows down to a crawl, fading out with an atmospheric bass line toward a bittersweet death. The lyrics are quite cryptic but their seems to be a sense of hope early, only to have it ripped away at the end. Early lines have a tinge of sarcastic hope such as “Living life less day end day. shine emerald, shine.” However, late the song seems to trap the characters to a pit of sadness with one climbing out to search for the sky, only to not find one past the barrier.
nic put on a pretty solid performance on their half too. V, the long opener is massive track to experience. They seem to use more drone-inspired sounds in their music, especially prevalent in the slow first ninety seconds that could lull a listener to sleep. The drums and prettily picked guitars kick in to build the song slowly though, finally bursting open just past the four minute mark with an earth-shattering guitar riff. Muted vocal screams are blended behind the guitars and drums, just loud enough to become noticeable. The vocal mixing is reminiscent of Planning For Burial’s latest Desideratum. The guitars are the real driving force of the track, consistently changing the pace with some beautiful soloing also. The very middle stops all instruments to throw in a droning sound effect similar to a telegraph machine. The very ending builds like the opening, slowly adding instrumentation until the song just dies. Lyrically this track seems to be about being alone, and rejecting another’s touch. One early line states “I wanted to live and share it.” Only to be followed near the end with “Don’t speak, don’t breathe, don’t touch me.”
VI is their shorter track being just under seven minutes, which is long for any other artist. The tracks picks up immediately with a heavy riff soaring through along with the fastest drum beat present on the split. Vocals are a bit more prominent this time around, but they are still mixed behind the instrumentation. Guitars are bit more hopeful this time around, with some cleaner vocals shining through after the middle breakdown. The ending of VI is also the fastest moment on the split, giving a solid sprint of quality sound. The lyrics are about loneliness again, but this time a bit more violent. An earlier line states “I am a murderer who lacks it’s victim.” Almost as if the loneliness has hit a breaking point. The end dies with a whimper with the character stating “I can’t breathe, I don’t want to.”
Old Soul and nic show why they are two very solid bands that have massive potential. Both have slight differences and are young in their early phases of music, but this split is a major step in the right direction. It may just be time for both to start releasing some more full length albums to wet their fan’s whistles a little bit more. I wouldn’t mind and I’m sure a few more fans would agree with my sentiment.