Once in a while something truly inescapable comes along, which hits you right in the face, and forces you to stop, and take note. A force so unexplainable, that the shear impact of it redefines everything you thought you knew and takes things to a whole new level completely. Nefarious Wave, the new album by Brooklyn three-piece Somnuri, is an album that does just that, and then some.
Born in a time where the unrest of the world, global pandemics, and the ever-real threat of impending doom at man’s hands, has turned up the threat level to eleven, Nefarious Wave is an album which fits perfectly as the soundtrack to the apocalyptic times we know and live through right now.
This seven tracker is a heavy and bleak sludgy monster, and with its stoner doom vibe, it’s easy to imagine just where it fits in on the musical landscape. This isn’t just your standard sludge affair though, it’s that, and then so much more. It pulls in elements of hardcore too, and it’s hard to dismiss some Walls of Jericho style goodness oozing out from the very soul of the band.
It’s a no holds barred, thrill ride, that demands your maximum attention, and anything less than full volume would be an absolute travesty. It’s as abrasive as it is obnoxious. Thunderous, yet considered, and brilliant without any hint of stupidity at all. All in all, and to put a definitive mark on it, this album needs to be part of any avid metal fans collection, and to skip by it, and not embrace it, is only doing a disservice to the metal gods.
Right from album opener, Tied To Stone, the onslaught is merciless. It enters like a juggernaut, and never slows particularly in pace, pulsating as it drives out from the speakers. Reminiscent of the all new, super improved Sepultura, its tribal thrash, with pulsating drums, hits in a way that’s as threatening as it is in its urgency. Referring to my notes, I see the words ‘breakneck’ and ‘punishing’, and both are pretty much perfect for how to describe this track.
Tooth & Nail does nothing but only solidify the groundwork of Tied To Stone showing what an absolute force Somnuri really are. While none of the intensity is lost, this foundation is added to, and the sound deviates slightly. There are moments where a hardcore addition slides in, and tones of Vision of Disorder can be heard. The pairing of the hardcore with the thrash intensity really elevates this track, and lifts it skywards.
Hard, abrasive, and volatile…
Tracks such as Desire Lines bring about a sludgier tone, and in such, I’m compelled to draw a parallel with the United Kingdom’s very own sludge lords, Ohhms. Its dark and murky, like a foggy night at sea, thick, and ominous. This darkness reappears throughout Watch The Lights Go Out, where the intense chugging nature drives the tune through.
One of the stand out moments for me though, is the track Beyond Your Last Breath, and here’s why… While it fully embodies the Somnuri aesthetic, it also brings in something that I wasn’t expecting. That thing is a legitimate Biohazard vibe. It has all the markers of classic Biohazard, like the Urban Discipline era Biohazard, but is a hundred times more aggressive, and at least another hundred times less puerile in approach. It feels like that more accessible side of the whole NYHC scene, but without any compromise. It is a welcome addition, and really branches out from what I was expecting.
In the Grey pulls back to that Sepultura comparison, with its tribal ferocity, and vocal assault. After a more ambient start, slower, and more textured, it rips in, and destroys the scene for all to see.
Nefarious Wave closes the album, and after a tentative opening, Somnuri pull another trick out of the bag. Where a large proportion of the album’s vocal has been gutturally shouted into our faces, this time it’s actually sung. Not only sung but sung in a way that is incredibly cool. It still maintains that dark air, and still manages to keep the intensity throughout. It really shows another side to the band, and their versatility to produce something that’s as clever as it is brutal. At no point is it ever pushed into cliché diatribes, and when the hardcore comes through, it’s never excessive.
Considering that this is only the second full release by the band, it certainly feels like a seasoned band, who have been at this for far longer than they actually have. To say this is an essential addition to a collection may seem a little much, but after listening through multiple times, and with just how this slow burner has grown on me, I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of reality to categorise it as such. Hard, abrasive, and volatile, Somnuri have produced an album that will certainly see them hitting the big leagues some time real soon.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish