Review Summary: It wasn't a phase, mom!
Welcome to 2023: the zeitgeist has determined Limp Bizkit wasn’t that
bad, leading to an unexpected surge of nu-metal or nu-metal-influenced releases in the underground, and subsequently causing a reappraisal of the genre’s highlights. Who’da thought it? For a category once written off as a bad dream that everyone collectively hallucinated sans-Linkin Park’s prime years, it’s certainly surprising to see this comeback not only exist in the first place—somebody really exhumed the corpse of Papa Roach and went, “Yeah, more of that”—but also possess critical and fan appeal; listeners are seeking
this when it ordinarily may have been rejected. There’s evidently something alluring about the genre that’s causing it to threaten airwaves once more. For any concerned at the emergence of this sudden phenomenon, fear not! Graphic Nature can assuage all fears with their crystal-clear portrayal of this newfound movement. Unlike contemporaries that tend to crash inspirations together like a toddler mashing a circle into a square hole, they seem capable of cobbling together something that can be called a song. This is good news for those that appreciate songs that sound like songs. It’s a comparatively streamlined approach—clichés are all present and accounted for as if read verbatim from a Wikipedia article—which allows it to succeed and falter in equal measure. For all that is done well inside A Mind Waiting To Die
, there is much more that simply isn’t done at all, creating an unintentionally apt portrayal of nu-metal(core)’s second wind.
The London collective is generally capable of excelling in a direct approach which serves as the LP’s primary foundation. Their debut’s runtime is lined with tunes that rely upon nu-metal’s potential heaviness via groove-laden arrangements, harkening back to the good ol’ days of the classification’s golden age. This means thick bass, low-low-low guitars, the occasional record scratching to let you know Hello, this album has vague hip-hop influence
, and plenty of beefy breakdowns. That is, indeed, the bare minimum required to construct a strong nu-metalcore effort, and for the base thrill factor alone, these are not necessarily bad things. Tunes such as proper opening number “Sour” bring the heat with distorted riffs, a hefty bass presence, and multiple tempo shifts in order to pave the way for an onslaught of breakdowns. The robust groove that forges the bedrock of the track is enough to get a crowd to their feet, and it reliably guides the arrangement forward to maintain momentum and build up tension for any sudden changes. There’s a wonderfully bouncy feel to tracks such as “Killing Floor,” whose rhythmic chugs give a dance-worthy and somewhat industrial feel to proceedings, especially when paired alongside stray electronic additions. In another instance, the threatening “White Noise” succeeds purely through flaunting its low-end abuse as it thrashes about in another array of menacing breakdowns. It’s made abundantly apparent through these examples that Graphic Nature are as heavy a customer as can be found in this scene; from beginning to end, they make their surprise halts a spectacle to witness, and they tend to be the selling point of a given song.
With such a minimalist, straightforward approach in play, there’s unfortunately a hard ceiling on the heights the album can reach. The aforementioned examples slowly depreciate when their riffs, tempo, and progressions are unnervingly similar to surrounding tracks. Every tune possesses the ability to strike like an absolute freight train, but when bereft of distinguishing characteristics, the record quickly decomposes into a puddle of indistinguishable heaviness. The line separating “White Noise” and, say, “Twisted Fear” becomes eerily thin, bordering on self-plagiarism in their multitude of shared traits. Frustratingly few risks are taken to address this dilemma; “Headstone” teases with an increased electronic influence, effects abuse, and slower pace, yet it never fully commits and eventually relegates these elements to the background where their existence is barely registered. Then there is the thunderous conclusion of “Deathwish,” which the band fails to expand upon outside of its brief occurrence. Any hint at differentiation therefore comes across more as a gimmick—an arbitrary addition to appear
unique—rather than an honest attempt, and with the band so quickly running from those fleeting flirtations, it only compounds the issue of absent variety. Likewise, the band’s dependency on breakdowns for payoffs cheapens the value of their appearance, contributing to a songwriting exhibition that’s too linear and without many tricks to pull. It becomes too easy to predict where Graphic Nature intend to take a track; they’re headed to the BIG EVENT, another big boy breakdown, and rarely do they alter course elsewhere.
Distilling nu-metalcore into a concise, consistent effort allows Graphic Nature to expel any fluff and get down and dirty with the basics, but it undeniably restrains their debut from attaining a recognizable voice. For all the flaws that could be attributed to peer groups in the scene, they’re at least vying to establish novel identities, whether it be Tallah’s borderline slapstick adherence to wild vocal acrobatics or vein.fm’s spastic arrangements. Perhaps as a product of it being a first foray in the wide-wide world of the Music Industry(tm), A Mind Waiting To Die
keeps proceedings safe. It sticks the landing when regarding nu-metalcore’s entertaining grooves, bass tones and silly breakdowns, yet its cautious tactics render it more of a tribute act to collectives of yesteryear than a fresh contender in the genre’s field—which is a flaw sadly attributable to many other outfits kicking around in this second wave. Instead of advancing the category, there’s a sense that this resurrection of late-90s/early 2000s motifs is but a nostalgia trip, not a venture designed for longevity or pushing the medium’s capabilities. Due to that, Graphic Nature are perfectly inoffensive, and taken as they are, they’ve got an addicting template here that’s easy to comprehend and delve into. However, any hopes for an odyssey crossing the boundary of normalcy are promptly dashed through the album’s duration. This is a comforting reminder (or discomforting, you be the judge) of when Fred Durst commanded crowds with an iron fist—but at least he was doing something a little different at the time period.