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Nothnegal - "Nothnegal" (CD/EP)

Nothnegal - "Nothnegal" CD/EP cover image

"Nothnegal" track listing:

1. Actuality (4:26)
2. Rannamaari (4:22)
3. Viha (4:12)
4. Flux Plane (4:14)

Reviewed by on August 28, 2013

"Though it is radically unique from 'Decadence,' it’s also far superior and injects new life into what sounded tired before."

A crisis of identity plagued Nothnegal’s debut album, “Decadence.” Most of the album was melodic death metal, though the final two songs ditched the death metal and put emphasis on the melody. The harsh vocals were dropped and another vocalist, Affan, was brought in. He has since become the lead vocalist for Nothnegal. His presence is much more prominent on the band’s latest self-titled EP, which finds the band abandoning their death metal sound for an experimental style. Though it is radically unique from “Decadence,” it’s also far superior and injects new life into what sounded tired before.

The death metal has been tossed aside for the time being, though the band hasn’t forgotten about the electric side of their music. “Actuality” is the most traditional metal tune on the EP, with its striking guitar solos and moody keyboards that would have fit on their last release. Affan’s vocals are a marked improvement over the ones used on “Decadence.” Since the harsh vocals were one of the weaker aspects of the band, they are not missed. Nothnegal is better off as a band for taking this approach from a vocal standpoint.

The premise of the EP is based on Maldivian folklore; more specifically, the supernatural side. These religious and mystical themes are sequestered by a focused percussion onslaught and otherworldly instrumental work. “Rannamaari,” based on a tale involving virgin sacrifices to a deep-sea demon, has a more potent tribal flair than “Actuality” and feels like an evolved take on what they put across with the first song on the EP. Each song seems to build off that, most notably with the eccentric final two songs, though the instrumental closer “Flux Plane” wanders in circles instead of drives home its point.

This EP appears to be just a brief detour before they get back to the usual mechanics on their next album, but Nothnegal really has something here. The band explores new sonic avenues without sacrificing heaviness. Fans of “Decadence” may be puzzled by the tribalistic nature of the songs, though these four songs are far more interesting than anything from their first album. Hopefully, Nothnegal doesn’t completely abandon the compelling direction taken with this sharp EP.

Highs: Melodic vocals are well done, dropping death metal aspect of their music was a smart move, heavy percussion presence works great in the music

Lows: "Flux Plane" doesn't do much for closing the EP out, fans of earlier material may balk at the shift in sound

Bottom line: Whether this EP is just a brief detour or a sign of what their future holds, Nothnegal is much more interesting with this shift in sound on this self-titled release.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)