I would imagine the two members behind the new Ukrainian duo Nonsun have a love of various different orbits of the slow and heavy amp worship stratosphere. They obviously know their SunnO)) from their Sourvein, their Ahab from their Worship, and their Isis from their Omega Massif. That no doubt means they have great record collections. But the side effect of this love of many different approaches is that they seem to be struggling to develop an identity of their own on this here debut four track demo.
The opening “Jesus’ Age” starts well enough with some malevolent riff filth, but comes crashing around itself in a mess all too quickly. Whenever the song settles into an enjoyable, rancorous groove they feel immediately compelled to disrupt their own flow by inserting a pointless feedback interlude. I don’t know what effect they’re trying to achieve by doing this, and I’m sure it was fun for the guitarist, but for the listener it becomes both irritating and tedious as patience wears thin waiting for them to kick back into something to latch on to. And while the actual riffs in the remainder of the song are all pretty good, some feel like they’ve been stuck in for the sake of it, giving the overall feel of two musicians just jamming rather than writing a song. For 18 fucking minutes. It’s far too much to get through, and demands a lot more dedication from the listener that, if truth be told, it really deserves for such an unfocused piece of music.
You might want to note here that Nonsun really like feedback. I mean they really, really like it. They stick it in somewhere in each of next four tracks. I might even put it to you dear reader that they might have mistaken “throwing in some feedback” with “creating an unsettling atmosphere”, which is a grave error to make. That seems to be the only reason I can think of why they have to use it so much, where they really shouldn’t.
“Rain Have Mercy” begins with a minute or two of atmospheric drone before getting into the song proper – a more melancholic approach in the riffing is apparent than the primate bludgeon at play in the opening track. This more (much as I hate the phrase) “post metal” style approach here feels like it is where they excel and feel most at home. It definitely feels most like the area that allows them to harness their potential best, with some memorable riffing and excellent drumming. There’s a little excess at work still, as the guitar soloing seems to stretch on and on, but this track is a better experience than the disaster of “Jesus’ Age”.
Just when things seem like they’re on the up though, “Message of Nihil Carried by the Waves of the Big Bang” comes along to ruin all the goodwill the last song has built up: This is almost seven minutes of noise experimentation that doesn’t succeed in creating any kind of atmosphere or really do anything that would encourage a second listen. Unsurprisingly, there’s more guitar feedback inserted here as per the first song. I really do not understand why this was included on the demo at all, it feels completely without any point.
Finally, having done overly long sludge riffs, catchy and driving post-metal, and meritless noise, the band then take another tact with the closing “Forgotten Is What Never Was” as they venture into a more funeral doom inspired territory for an instrumental dirge with some (admittedly very well used) organ work. This is one of the better points on the demo, and the instance where they really do manage to create a bleak atmosphere, but again it feels too much like a jam where there’s no real peak in the music. It just plods along towards the end and feels like a glorified outro.
It’s a tough one. While I can hear that the two guys in Nonsun are obviously talented musicians, they just seem to take so many wrong turns here that it becomes very hard to enjoy the end result. Of the four tracks here, there’s really only one that grabs the attention in the way I would hope a new band would be aiming to with the first demo. I imagine this recording was a labour of love for the members and they enjoyed making it, but it feels like a lot of work has to be done here, particularly – and I cannot stress this enough – in terms of learning how to edit their own songs, because they are way too long. And it feels like the track lengths are unjustified and owed largely to the band just meandering without any real purpose.
I would love to hear them develop and tighten the knack for songwriting they hint at in”Rain Have Mercy”, or see them even develop on the approach taken on “Forgotten Is What Never Was” where they try a more evocative style. But the feedback laden sluggishness exhibited on the other two tracks needs to be disposed of, as does the unfortunate tendency to try and cram every riff they can think of into the songs. Lacking any real character, Nonsun sadly leave me cold here.
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes