Album Title: Inertia
Label: Inverse Records
Date of Release: 27 March 2020
Hands up who misses Sentenced? You can’t see me, but I have both hands held aloft, which makes typing this review somewhat tricky. Ever since I discovered the Finnish band in the late 90s, I have loved them and it was painful having to come to terms with the fact that they no longer existed when they called it a day in 2005. Even more sad to learn that Miika Tenkula passed away a few years later from a heart attack. Over the years, many bands have come close to filling the void, but a decade and a half later, I may have discovered the very best. I give you Nicomo.
At this point, I must clearly point out that Nicumo are not even close to being a Sentenced clone. They have an identity all of their own which I will seek to describe as this review develops. However, being a fellow Finnish band, that intangible melancholia that is the preserve of the Finns is very much in evidence; the songs are dripping in dark atmosphere with feelings of frustration, sadness and despair looming large over the nine songs that comprise ‘Inertia’. The fact that the songs then straddle that mid-way point between dark rock and metal, where Sentenced effectively ended their career, only seeks to strengthen the ties between the two bands.
What is a surprise to me is that ‘Inertia’ is actually the third full-length release of Nicumo’s career, meaning that had I have been smarter in my searches previously, I may well have not had to wait this long to hear music of this style and quality. In fact, having formed in 2007 and having released their debut as far back as 2013, my wait could have been significantly truncated. Mind you, I’m yet to hear their previous material, so I’ll reserve judgement for the time being.
Back to the here and now, and I can report that the quintet of Hannu Karppinen (vocals), Atte Jääskelä (guitars), Tapio Anttiroiko (guitars), Sami Kotila (bass) and Aki Pusa (drums) make a glorious noise, one that needs to be explored by fans of melancholic rock/metal with a Gothic and melodic slant.
First off, the music sounds really great, full of clarity but the guitars in particular are properly heavy when they are required to chug away in dominating fashion. The drums are a little clicky if I was to be incredibly picky but nevertheless, kudos therefore has to go to Olli Tainio at Joshua Music for his knob-twiddling skills. Equally, a nod has to go to Hannu Karppinen for his beautiful and strikingly simple artwork that adorns the ‘Inertia’ cover.
None of the nine tracks, spreading over 41 minutes are filler either; each song, even the saxophone-imbued ‘Same Blood’ is really very good thanks to the atmosphere it contains, the slow doom influences and gorgeous melodic interplay. But each song contains a hook, chorus or an atmosphere that means that you simply have to listen to the album from start to finish. If you don’t you’ll miss something worthy of attention. But what it also means is that it is difficult to single out specific songs.
Opener ‘Three Pyres’ is a good start though. It starts with a cool melodic guitar intro, which allows the song to build up around it. The bass rumbles beautifully, Karppinen’s vocals are rich and deep and the guitar lead embellishments are wonderful. I am a sucker for the imposing chugging riff at the centre of the composition, which then gives way to a more aggressive section complete with growled vocals before a sprawling, driving chorus emerges, full of vigour.
Then there’s ‘Witch Hunt’ that begins with an infectious hard rock swagger and vibe before plummeting swiftly into much darker territory, albeit retaining a certain groove that’s rather irresistible. The bass is wonderful in this track too, as are the lead guitar solos, all pulled together by another large melodic but bitter-sweet chorus. Speaking of choruses, the one contained within ‘Tree Of Life’ is beautiful and majestic in equal measure, creating a big impact in the process.
The Sentenced influences loom large at the beginning of ‘Mother And The Snake’, and indeed throughout the entire composition. On the other hand, the more aggressive and heavy side of the band emerges within ‘Who You Are’ whilst still managing to keep the melody and atmosphere intact, delivering arguably my favourite, almost radio-friendly chorus at the same time.
The more I listen to this impressive record, the more I fall under its spell. The more I fall under its spell, the more I listen. It’s like the exact opposite of a vicious circle, one that I am very happy to be caught up within. ‘Inertia’ was checked out on a whim and has delivered one of the best surprises of the year for me. Chock full of melancholia, satisfying heaviness and strong melodic sensibilities, Nicumo deserve your attention. So draw the curtains, lay back and let their dark Gothic-infused metal seep into your weeping heart.
The Score of Much Metal: 91%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: