Review Summary: It didn't matter much in the end.
There ought to be a whiplash warning label on The Implosion of Everything That Matters
. I’m not sure what such a label would look like personally, but I figure it’d be the same stuck onto Signs
or the last seasons of Game of Thrones
, basically saying “Hey, things are about to go sideways, it’s not gonna make sense, strap in.” Because sometimes aliens are defeated since water… exists, sometimes kings are decided because stories are so cool
, and sometimes post-hardcore bands make a hard pivot in a direction nobody anticipated. On the heels of the well-received The Only Way to Reach the Surface
, Nord have opted to kick out the metaphorical Jon Snow in their midst and brought in synthwave, darkwave, dance music, and f*ck
your plotlines because we’re going headfirst off the rails where absolutely nothing adds up.
These abrupt shifts do pan out occasionally--Envy on the Coast woke up one day, ditched scratchy post-hardcore for dirty, groovy Southern rock and reaped rewards--but frequently, the audience is left mouth agape as the villain is revealed to be the grass or something. Predictably, the issue is firmly planted in execution; Nord snapped up a plethora of electronic genres, tossed them in a blender sans-seasoning, and then threw the result at a wall. That splatting sound is “Incantation”; the tune’s first half, ground in auto-tune-laden synthwave and spacey ambiance, awkwardly jumps into distorted harsh vocals, which fade out at the behest of some melancholic keys, which then give rise to angelic clean vocals and spoken word contributions that sound ripped from a poetry album. It’s a meeting of three different approaches that doesn’t translate well, be it for the thin-sounding electronics or the jarring transitions leading to each part, and no combination is working as intended.
This recurring dilemma is made evident by a multitude of mishandled shifts. In just ”Truth Philters” alone, Nord bound from jagged synth lines into a dose of post-hardcore grit and screams, then into 80’s-like bass-boosted dance music, then into some upbeat grooving with horn sampling, and then
into some sort of breakdown. The climax capping off this stretch leaves a lot to be desired, much in the same way the title track’s stumble to the finish line feels abrupt. In the former’s case, the song limps through a repeat of the chorus. In the latter, blast beats erupt sans-build-up, and in the midst of a restrained production where most elements are substantially quieted--this excludes the armada of synth lines that, in instances like “Sexorcism,” box out practically everything else in the mix--it doesn’t come across as an earned moment of release, nor does it fit the spacey, gently-textured surroundings that Nord’s emphasis on enhanced ambiance generates. Heavy moments are from an era not far away, yet one all-too-distant now; the screaming of “Incantation” aims for violence but is comparatively toothless, the opening of “Truth Philters” is a setup with no payoff, and the title track’s aforementioned climax lacks the robust build-ups that the band’s prior work excelled at.
Every track comes across as if it is on the verge of something
, prepared to jump off the precipice and dive into something grander, but then the rug’s pulled out from underneath and the band never truly gets going. It’s a shame; there are multiple moments where The Implosion of Everything that Matters
clicks, and it likely would click on the whole if it could just sit still for a second. “Candles” artfully constructs the groundwork for what Nord’s newfound style could be--graceful falsetto harmonies intertwined with resonating piano notes and an indefinite, alluring frontier composed of winding electronic ambience--but what follows is haphazardly composed, like the songwriting is intent on demonstrating as much as possible without pausing for development. The building blocks are undeniably there, and it’s admirable to attempt such a drastic change, but the end product looks like a f*cked-up Picasso, or a deadpan, waffle-of-a-personality dude in a wheelchair getting crowned because why not
. Simply put: it just doesn’t add up.