Nucleus Torn - _Nihil_
(Prophecy Productions, 2006)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7.5 out of 10)
Originally the solo project of one Fredy Schnyder, Switzerland's Nucleus Torn has grown gradually since 1997, and over the last three years a total of seven musicians worked to create the debut full-length _Nihil_. The result is as diverse an album as I've heard in a long time, including elements ranging from folk to classical music, progressive rock and some extreme metal.

Initial listens will probably have you feeling like you're playing a collection of tracks from various albums of different genres, but _Nihil_ simultaneously proves to be an intriguing record. No matter its origin or how unrelated it seems to be, each section immediately gives the impression of having been more than just a passing thought from an overambitious songwriter; there seems to be genuine purpose and development in each of them. Whether they all fit together into a song and ultimately an album that makes for a rewarding listen is a different matter, and often where such wide-ranging compositions falter.

Where opener "Glass Spirit" is all folksy acoustics, nice female vocals and a catchy melody or two, "Traveller's Rest" introduces a more full-bodied acoustic sound and clean male singing. Very melodic and light-hearted to begin with, it gradually gains a different tone, until electric guitars and more menacing singing finally erupt for a brief moment midway through, and again to close the song. This leads to "Night's Grace", which consists entirely of a rather interesting piano composition. Once this interlude ends on a suitably sombre note, "Summer Bled" greets the listener with the type of electric guitar riff its name might suggest, soon joined by very apt drums and violin, then male vocals. The gloomy atmosphere eventually gives way to a more prog-rock tinge, before moving to acoustic strings and flute and then returning whence it started and revolving around these themes. "Close" brings back the style and crystalline female voice of the opening track, this time without the need for any instruments; a rather powerful interlude nonetheless. Such vocals continue with soft instrumentation on the folksier "The Sunclad", which in the light of its predecessors fails to impress. Finally, closer "Peregrina Sublime" kicks off with full blown metal guitars and drums, delivering what little extreme metal can be found on the record; but it is well worth it, as its potent start is followed by an outstanding instrumental break. Following an acoustic section the song climaxes quite nicely, before going away quietly.

Only listeners with a wide range of tastes need bother with _Nihil; For them there are plenty of rewards waiting to be found inside. I am left impressed but not entirely satisfied by its eclectic nature, which at times does result in wishing they would do more of this and less of that (in my case, more of "Peregrina Sublime"). No doubt there's enough on _Nihil_ to suggest a very interesting future for Nucleus Torn however, and as a debut it does a good job of putting them on the map.


(article published 18/1/2007)

5/11/2008 P Azevedo 8.5 Nucleus Torn - Knell
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