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Nucleus Torn - Street Lights Fail CD (album) cover

STREET LIGHTS FAIL

Nucleus Torn

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.45 | 4 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mysterious, minimalist, something different

Swiss avant-folk-post metal band Nucleus Torn have been around for many years now but have returned with the first part of a two-album conceptual work. The second part of the work will be called "Neon Light Eternal" and is scheduled for released in 2015, both from their longtime label Prophecy. The core band now consists of leader Fredy Schnyder, drummer Alain Ackermann, and vocalist Anna Murphy (also of the band Eluveitie). I've always enjoyed the Scandinavian metal I've been exposed to and this time was no different. These bands frequently exude a tangible vibe of the natural elements in their part of the world, whether it be ice and snow, fog, mountains, woodland greenery, and of course flowing water. They also seem to have a significant folk influence. I think of bands like Green Carnation although Nucleus Torn are not that loud and heavy, in fact here they remind me more of softer Alcest.

"Street Lights Fail" is instantly intriguing as one notices it consists of just three long tracks. The first track "-" is titled with just a dash mark, rather unfortunate. It begins with a sparse, open atmosphere, a lonely piano, and Anna's voice speaking. A spooky piece of what sounds like harpsichord ushers in the band but only briefly. This is not metal here so far, just an elegant and delicate beginning. The 20 minute long "Worms" is the centerpiece and here Nucleus gets louder. Plenty of thrashing electric guitar and power drumming to start it off. Anna's vocals become more aggressive here although still clean. She has a childlike quality to her voice and while initially it didn't knock me out, it really grew on me. The playing gets very exciting in this track: intricate weaving alternates with chugging, experimental sounds and distorted vocals, lots of variation between light and heavy, even a gorgeous woodland flute solo by Anouk Hiedl-it's all unpredictable and adventurous. This part of the album should appeal quite well to fans of Alcest.

In the final track, "The Promise of Night", we move way back to a brooding yet tempestuous ambient track. The music is a perfect metaphor for night: dark and mysterious, with lots of black space occupied by a lone piano sounding lost, drifting. There is a vocal section in the middle before the piano closes out the seemingly uneventful 12 minutes. It's very subtle and minimalist but quite beautiful. If it feels incomplete remember that it is intentional, this recording is only one half of the project. This album took a while to sink in but I now love it more with each play, I love how different it sounds than so many bands these days. It is not really an album for metal fans looking to rock out, but a nuanced, often free-form avant progressive rock with folk and metal pushed to the fringes. I thought it was fantastic but be warned it is for patient music fans, not those seeking instant melodic blood sugar spikes.

On their Bandcamp page they state that if they are to be remembered it should be for these two albums. They say "Street Lights Fail" takes "a stand against the intolerable boredom of listening to predictable music." Indeed...another contender for my 2014 favorites list.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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