Black Shape of Nexus - _Negative Black_
(Exile on Mainstream, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
Occasionally, band names and album titles don't immediately express the records' contents. A disc called _City of Echoes_ by Pelican might, at first glance, be mistaken for a post-Radiohead indie pop record. Rosetta's _Wake/Lift_ could be a chamber ensemble's newest arrangements of neoclassical bliss. These Germans, however, are unlikely to encounter any confusion. When your band is called Black Shape of Nexus and you slap your album with the title _Negative Black_, you can kiss accidental sales to cute young socialites goodbye.

_Negative Black_ shares its doom lineage with all the traditional heavies, but this lightless crawl contains more gritty anguish than esoteric exploration, due mainly to the monochrome steamroller riffs, claustrophobic snarling, and tortured signal squalls that wriggle into your guts and convince you that molecular disintegration is not only imminent but welcome. Opener "Illinois" isn't a song so much as six squealing minutes of hateful feedback with a beat. "400H" and "60 WV" kick you into a shallow grave and take turns shoveling bone-pulping anvils over your body. Coarse growls and screams permeate the tracks, but they're coming from your own throat. Surviving twenty minutes of "10000 µF" feels heroic, though it's no chore to do so. Its final section even offers a quiet hum shot through with a piano melody, so you can rest your evil heart before leaping into the album's second half. "RMS" takes a few pages from the Om songbook, with its guitar and vocal drones and echoing eastern grace notes. Finally, the Mannheim sextet managed to employ the voice of Brian Froud's Skeksis Chamberlain for closer "Neg. Black", which rolls out fifteen minutes of Khanate-style tempoless crush around wordless, psychotic murmurs and moans, then transitions into a tribal groove amidst an industrial scrap yard.

_Negative Black_ rarely clears new avenues of spiteful expression, but it is (un)comfortably familiar and spectacularly rendered. In BSoN's honor, I'm having my own bumper sticker printed up to say, "Subtlety Is for Losers"... probably in small print so it will fit in some inconspicuous corner of my sensible sedan. Stick it to 'em, boys!


(article published 15/7/2012)

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