NOTHING NOBLE - MODERN DISMAY
DANISH DJENT WITH AN EMOTIONAL VENT
This record’s intro alone is instructive that Copenhagen-based Nothing Noble have a mission to create a sound that is grandiose and epic; it’s a lead-in that could herald a range of possible directions Modern Dismay could take, but not the one that actually follows. And that direction is mostly a nouveau iteration of progressive djent metalcore.
Nothing Noble start promisingly with the title track and it’s big, airy atmosphere that distils clanging angular riffs, lung-popping aggressive vocals and a sense of evocative wide-screen scale. The riffage, of course, displays sort of Meshuggah lineage – a well-established style – but one that is imbued with a reflective emotional punch which seems to be the band’s USP. Songs like Eternal Change, Risen or the slower and forlorn As Shadows Grow Long and The Path to Peace combine discordant, rumbling groove with stirring drama and passionate wistfulness.
The emotional overtures are periodically dropped in favour for uncompromising bellicosity and the likes of the hellbent djent of Bond of Blood (which features Brendan Murphy of Counterparts) and the piledriving headrush of Rotting Away or the pit-friendly Black Earth crank up the heaviosity.
The precise and polished sound that Nothing Noble create on Modern Dismay means the musicianship has nowhere to hide. Fortunately the band play tightly and clinically which suits this type of music and the surgically clean production enhances both the emotional weight and the seething bludgeon they try to convey. There is fury, too, with angry vocals that are relentlessly intense and range from guttural deathcore to pan-fried screams. Vocally, it is a blood vessel-threatening performance that is authentic and genuine in its wrathful timbre and if you want proof, then consult the likes of the rampaging Torn Assunder. The band, at peak performance, is a noisy, cranky, calibrated djent riff engine that splice their racket with a dimension of heady melancholy.
As the record progresses, however, the riffs start to become somewhat interchangeable, particularly in the second half of the record. Since Meshuggah’s controlled explosiveness emerged in the 1990s, the djent / metalcore formula has been increasingly worn out from over-use. There is no shortage of acts peddling this style to the extent that djent is almost a weary trope. It takes, therefore, something significant to become a frontrunner in this congested subgenre which has a handful of leaders and too many acolytes. As Modern Dismay reaches the latter stages, the riffage becomes too familiar or even re-treads with what has been done elsewhere already and attention is, consequently, prone to faltering. Essentially you have heard at least some of this before.
That is not to say that Nothing Noble don’t play with laudable sincerity, disciplined musicianship and try to throw in some variety but Modern Dismay could perhaps be shorter in runtime to ensure stricter quality control. Nothing Noble are promising with a lot going for them and this record has some highs but they have plenty time ahead to continue developing and self-identify more.