(Andy Synn saddles up with Bucephale, the first full-length album in 20 years from Nostromo)
Better late than never, that’s what they say, right? Although, come to think of it, it’s mostly people who are chronically late who say that, so maybe they’re just trying to cover for themselves…
Still, in this case it rings true, as while I’m ashamed to admit I totally missed the boat on the first phase of Nostromo‘s career (during which time they produced three impressively intense albums), I’ve been hooked on them ever since I stumbled across their 2019 EP, Narrenschiff, and so felt that the impending release of their new record was the perfect time to make amends for overlooking them for so long.
If, like I used to be, you’re not familiar with the group, then l what you should expect from this album is a truly vicious, visceral assault on your senses (and your sensibilities) that sits somewhere between the more extreme proponents of “Metallic Hardcore” (aka the original “Metalcore”) like Integrity and Vision of Disorder, and the most furiously focussed form(s) of Grind a la Nasum, Napalm Death, etc.
But that’s not all, as – ever since their rebirth a few years back – the group have been exploring ever darker and more “blackened” sounds, with Bucephale being their darkest, harshest, and heaviest album yet.
It doesn’t take long for unapologetically nasty opener “Ship of Fools” to prove my words above to be accurate, abusing your eardrums with an array of howling vocals, hammering drums, and chugging, churning, chattering riffs that collectively sound like a three-way knife-fight between Rorcal, Ringworm, and Rotten Sound, after which “IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder)” proves just as lethal as its title suggests, detonating right in your face like the bastard child of Man Must Die and Mumakil.
Speaking of the latter band… the revelation that Nostromo‘s current line-up includes two ex-members of the dearly-departed Swiss blast-masters makes this album make even more sense, considering just how fucking hard they grind at points (such as during the aforementioned “IED” and penultimate punisher “Decimatio”).
But while there’s no denying the apocalyptic aggression fueling this album, there’s also a steely-eyed method to the band’s madness, one which finds them baiting their trap with hooks-a-plenty on tracks like “In Praise of Betrayal” and “A Sun Rising West”, to the point where they often sound like an even more virulent (and even more vicious, if such a thing is possible) version of This Gift Is A Curse and/or Dragged Into Sunlight.
That’s a lot of names to drop, I know (and I haven’t even mentioned the band’s fruitful collaborations with Treha Sektori and Monkey 3 – on the crushing “κατάϐασις” and unsettling closer “Asato Ma”, respectively – whose presence and influence adds yet another layer of ominous ambience and atmosphere to the album) but please don’t take it to mean that Nostromo are mere clones or copycats.
Far from it.
Instead, please view it as a sign of my esteem, in that I’m willing to place them right up there on a pedestal with some of the very best-of-the-best, the nastiest, gnarliest, and most eye-poppingly intense bands I can think of.
Because, let me tell you now – they deserve it. And, unless something seriously changes between now and December, you can be sure that you won’t find many other albums as furious, as ferocious, and as finely-tuned to inflict maximum damage, as this one before the year is out.