Review Summary: The Nietzche have possibly been saving the best for last, with their allegedly final EP containing some of their best sounding material to date, but in more ways than one...
The Nietzche, of Odessa, Ukraine, have been marrying their noisy hardcore music to the lyrics of luminary poets since 2013. It's a formula hard to go wrong with; the smart, acerbic wit of poets past met with singer Eugene Tymchyk's virulent expressions of rage has thus far been a limitless pool of inspiration to draw from for the band.
And now, with the release of Finals, complete with the ominous, subliminal subtitle "this is the end," it appears either that fountain of youth and ideas has either ran dry, or perhaps the band is simply looking to move on with their lives. Which is all too bad, because it's not at all reflected in the record; this is an EP full of the energy and quality content fans of this genre crave, with some of the best production you'll hear in the genre.
It's a funny thing, actually: most particularly in hardcore punk and metal scenes, overproduction can smother a bands reputation in its sleep. What feels naturally like a journey of clarity and focus can easily turn into an aimless, toothless experiment. It's been interesting watching bands like Every Time I Die (from New Junk Aesthetic to Ex-Lives) or more obviously Nirvana (from Nevermind to Incesticide) get too close to the sun for their own liking and start reintroducing the initial rough edges of the bands sound.
And while I honestly do not think The Nietzche was ever in danger of losing their edge, it is perhaps not a coincidence that their allegedly last EP has their most polished sounds. Single "Shake Your Spear" roars with purpose and intense sadness, screaming like Converge at one moment and introducing beautiful, soaring clean vocals at the next, which is a tried and true formula, but The Nietzche employ it with taste and versatility.
Aleksey Elanskiy's thoughtful, melodic approach to writing heavy riffs continues to impress, achieving with one guitar what often takes two or more. I think the production on the record benefits everyone in the band in different ways, but the guitars seriously sound phenomenal. On the crushing final moments of "Vasil," the bands dissonant, unified riffs ultimately give way to the glowing embers as the record ends.
And so, like many poets or musical artists, it appears The Nietzche may have saved the best for last. Swan song or not, if you're a fan of bands like Converge, Norma Jean, The Chariot, or Kvelertak, there is much to enjoy here. And while I don't think there is anything on this album that truly displays TDEP levels of intensity that are described elsewhere, Finals contains more than enough substance here for fans of heavy music in whatever capacity to enjoy.