Man, talk about pushing air. Nothing But Nothing, the first album from Portland Oregon’s retro-metal purists Danava since 2011’s Hemisphere Of Shadows does just that and then some. I first became aware of Danava way back in 2006 as they were featured on the Kemado Records Invaders compilation alongside other bands that defined the heavy underground in the early noughties like The Sword, Saviours, Big Business, Torche, Pelican, and Comets On Fire to name a few. Danava, led by guitarist/vocalist Greg Meleney, have since gone on to become stalwarts in the Pacific Northwest ‘heavy’, so after a twelve-year gap, Nothing But Nothing arrives to the open arms and ears of retro-metal fans across the globe.
Not surprisingly, Danava blow the doors wide open right out of the gate with the title track Nothing But Nothing, a dizzying blast of dueling guitar harmonies, and rhythmic thrust. Meleney and guitarist Kerby Strom absolutely shred while putting on a clinic in complementary guitar interplay. Meanwhile, not to be left behind, drummer Mathew Oliver and bassist Dominic Casciato each show that they are more than capable of keeping up as they both lock down the low end to jaw-dropping effect, and we’re only just getting started.
Danava do not take their foot off the gas for one second as the ‘80s thrash-esque riffing introduces Let The Good Times Kill, a completely face-melting exercise in vintage metal. The chorus is catchy as hell, Meleney‘s voice soaring behind the precision cacophony behind him. Season Of Vengeance is an instrumental that, to my ears, conjured up sonic comparisons The Atomic Bitchwax’s twisting, turning, riff vortexes during their Gravitron and Force Field periods.
One of my album highlights is Enchanted Villain. After some Maiden-esque guitar harmonies, the track drops into a full-on epic Heaven And Hell and Holy Diver Dio-style chug. Meleney puts on a standout vocal performance, to say nothing of the mega-shred both he and Strom unleash, which is, of course, deftly complimented by Oliver and Casciato’s next-level rhythm dynamics. Additionally, Meleney gets the opportunity to let lose some ‘80s, synth-dynamics during the middle bridge, underscoring the earlier Dio comparison.
Meanwhile, At Midnight You Die picks up the pace as Danava initiates yet another display of Maiden-style dueling leads that are complimented by catchy, ear-worm vocals, and a NWOBHM push that is as awe-inspiring as it is ripping. Strange Killer begins with a more mid-tempo attack, which isn’t to imply ‘simple’ as by now, it’s obvious that Danava are going to release all sorts of ear-blowing dynamics on their instruments. To my ears, Casciato’s nimble, spider-finger bass styling steals the show here, along with more of the ever-present vocal dynamics. Strange Killer serves as a wicked late album highlight as Danava once again prove their proficiency at this type of retro-metal.
showcasing their mastery of both NWOBHM technicality and proto-metal charge…
The penultimate Nuthin But Nuthin is almost like an ‘80’s synth-drenched, bastard step-son of the title track Nothing But Nothing. It’s catchy, and well written, mind you, for me, I’m not as much of a fan of this much synth in my rock music, however, Meleney,’s soaring vocals, and catchy chorus, coupled with his by-now familiar interplay with Strom keep the track fun and interesting.
Closer, Cas is a mellow slow burn, sung in a different language, that I am certainly unfamiliar with, and cannot identify. However, the language barrier didn’t keep me from enjoying the track as it’s a good album closer, complete with tons of shred from Meleney and Strom on the way out. Cas serves as nice palette-cleanser, after the head-spinning musical theatrics that occupy so much of Nothing But Nothing.
Danava have once again proved their complete grasp at this type of vintage metal showcasing their mastery of both NWOBHM technicality and proto-metal charge, all the while putting their own unique stamp on the music. I can’t think of many bands that possess the skill and know-how that Danava display throughout the eight tracks.
As mentioned earlier, The Atomic Bitchwax, while sounding totally different, is the one band that comes to mind, that I feel occupies the same head-spinning musical dynamics that Danava regularly put on display. Nothing But Nothing is a clinic in vintage-metal drive and execution served up by four musicians who clearly have the skill and know how to write and perform music of this caliber, and let’s hope we don’t have to wait another twelve years to see what Danava offers next.
The icing on the cake is the awesome album artwork from Richard Clifton-Dey. Nothing but Nothing turned out to be, not surprisingly, a ripping, yet fun album that I can emphatically recommend and I’m sure will find its way onto many year-end lists.
Scribed by: Martin Williams