(We present DGR‘s review of the second album by Norway’s Nexorum, just released late last week by Non Serviam Records.)
If you’d asked how long ago it had been since the last time we dove into Nexorum‘s black metal world with their first album Death Unchained, the knee-jerk response would’ve been not that long ago. It couldn’t have been right? Yet a gentle tap on the shoulder and much belly-aching later we’re reminded that the time compression of the past few years has struck once again. It has in fact been three years since we stumbled into the world of Nexorum (alongside Centinex‘s 2020 release at the time as well) for their debut album, Hell.
Any band that has put a out a release through the past few years has been put through the fucking wringer. Every release since then has felt like a soft restart for those groups whether they want it to be or not. Any group would be forgiven for choosing to hang it up after dealing with the shape of the world and its touring situation since then, so its a glorious thing to see Nexorum returning with a follow-up album, one that maintains the hellfire and ferocity of that first full-length while stretching their wings just a little bit further in Tongue Of Thorns.
Tongue Of Thorns was released on May 19th of this year – an eternity ago, we know – and further refines upon its older sibling while adding about five more minutes of run time to the overall length, whilst also managing to trim the actual song numbers down by one. Bigger songs, angrier guitars, and the same throat-scarring vocal work that made the debut an impressive listen, why would you not want to leap in head-first again?
If you’ve followed black metal for a while – and likely have, given the Sunday feature we run around here – then you’ll recognize Nexorum as the class of project wherein all the musicians are already well-practiced and familiar with the style, given that they hail from other already recognizable bands.
The short-form delivery of this is that Nexorum are part of the Keep Of Kallessin/Khonsu circle of musicians with members having spent time as either part of the main lineup or in the live versions of those groups over the years, and that’s just the more immediately noticeable listings.
They’re already starting with some prime quality cuts of meat here, and having already gotten the first-album jitters/expulsions out of the way, Nexorum would have to be doggedly determined to mess this up the second go around.
Even though it’s a conservative play for sure – the if ain’t broke, don’t fix it method – refining upon what they launched with on Death Unchained was a smart maneuver because it gave them room to breathe and write longer necksnapping songs like “Cult Of The Monolith”. Especially, given that this time around near-half the tracklisting runs in a similar vein and jumps over the five-minute mark while keeping flames licking at your feet the entire time.
It is appreciated how simple things start out on Tongue Of Thorns. A single-word song title in “Shun” and a single-operating brain cell in the songwriting, all focused on ripping through black metal standards at increasingly high-speed. It’s the attention-grabbing opener and leaves listeners little room to breathe before launching into the following song. It’s not a track that builds much – it is more ‘torch lit, now we keep this flame burning’ as it rips through five minutes and then dumps you through the front window of follower “Solvet Saeclum in Favilla” afterwords.
“Eldritch Abominations” later on is a slower, more apocalyptic take on the Nexorum sound, filled with guitars that sound like air-raid sirens and otherworldly effects creating a horror-movie atmosphere while Nexorum rumbles behind it. “Eldritch Abominations” with its five minutes and forty-four seconds jams a lot into its boundaries, making it one of the more packed songs delivered to you this time.
Nexorum move through so many movements across that song that you even reach the point where you could see how a few of those segments could’ve been pulled out on their own and germinated into a completely separate track. That they just keep running with it makes the song one of the bigger adventures within the Tongue Of Thorns collection this time.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is “Mother of Ghouls” near the end, which deserves some attention for (a) being the shortest track at almost four minutes and (b) being the most straight-shooting song of the class of Tongue Of Thorns this time. It is a constant lightning storm of a track, full of blasting and guitar lines that are just as quickly immolated as they are introduced to the world – not discounting the fact that the main melody following the first verse of the song will likely get stuck in your head for a few minutes after the end of the song anyway.
Eldritch abominations, litanies to Satan, and testaments to the darkness set aside, Tongue Of Thorns is still very recognizeable as a black metal album. Even throughout diving into the entrails of each song, the boiling background is Nexorum‘s black metal core. This is a gathering of musicians playing what they have already proven to be very, very good at it in their other projects, and needed a new outlet for their dedication to the infernal.
Tongue Of Thorns is the most natural followup to an album like Death Unchained that Nexorum could’ve come up with. They don’t suddenly shift gears or change up the style in a lateral within the same genre, but instead have found a way to organically justify the somewhat longer song lengths and the somehow even darker assault than before – even if the increase is incremental given the already void-blinded starting point.
Tongue Of Thorns may not stamp its own name all over the place in an effort to highlight how much it is changing the blueprint around and pushing the genre forward, but it does execute the equally difficult job of taking oft-recognized building parts and creating its own unique master out of them.
For all those who loves listening to black/death metal…this is the best they can get….ferociously melodic black/death at its finest from start to finish. Fans of Necrophobic watch out!