Nucleus Torn - _Knell_
(Prophecy Productions, 2008)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8.5 out of 10)
Sometimes there is nothing quite like a sombre acoustic guitar and a matching female voice to reach inside you at the right time in your life or just that particular point in the day. Harkening back to the effect of The 3rd and the Mortal's earliest efforts, _Knell_ opens with the kind of song that definitively proves that this combination doesn't have to be a soulless gimmick -- and the same applies to when violin and cello start making their appearance towards the end of the first song and the beginning of the second.

The four tracks on offer are simply numbered rather than titled, part of the whole that is _Knell_. This second full-length album by Switzerland's Nucleus Torn (who also have a couple of EPs to their name) does a fine job of building on the promise of its predecessor _Nihil_, growing into an altogether more cohesive effort. Even when the male vocals jarringly come to the forefront for the first time along with the electric guitars and drums during the second track -- and even if on the moment I would rather have the album stay the way it opened -- Nucleus Torn remain an intriguing proposition. Their mix of unusually progressive heavy metal with various ambient elements gives way to acoustic guitar and cello again, all of it of a high musical standard, and the album simply keeps you listening as it picks up pace for another metal section. Eventually a flute and piano are also used, but these elements are all used so sparingly and effectively that the album never seems to overflow with instrumentation -- indeed, Nucleus Torn's sound is about as far removed as it can be from the multitude of bombastic symphonic bands out there.

The mix of gloomy atmospheric and progressive elements on _Knell_ is sufficiently original, coherent, interesting and well executed to ensure multiple spins just in order to get to know the intricacies of the music. Then you can appreciate it for its quality even after the relative novelty of its approach has worn off, and that is where many others who succeed at being original end up failing. As a result, _Knell_ is an album that should be given time and attention by anyone with an interest in sombre and emotional, yet progressive music.


(article published 11/5/2008)

1/18/2007 P Azevedo 7.5 Nucleus Torn - Nihil
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