Nation in Despair - Utopia
Written by: Juho Karila
Nation in Despair is a 5-man technical death metal group from Espoo, Finland. Their music follows pretty strongly the footprints of Medeia and at first glance, their EP doesn’t add too much to what has been done before but let’s have a closer look before making the final judgement.
A drum roll opens the EP like a forewarning to the inevitable ass kicking, the first verse of Immersion rolls out like a thundershock right after. It’s clear that these guys have been listening to Medeia. The riffs groove out nicely and Miitrei Misukka‘s orecise in drumworks is simply outstanding in the perfect sync with the guitars. This track isn’t the easiest to get into, the riffs change without a warning and only distincly distinguishes from eachother, creating a consisting feeling of being in a tumble dryer. Sadly, musically it’s nothing special and unoriginal; not that there are too many bands of this genre but I’m left with a feeling that these guys could do better.
And they sure do better, Masquarade, the video-single, is more focused in technical melodic patterns and gives the guitarist’s more moments to shine. But they haven’t forgotten about the groove,showing what they can do best. One thing to note too is the versatility of Aleksi Kiianlehto‘s dynamic voice, his very low growls and little bit higher grunts contrasts and adds into eachother, causing me to get thrilled of the vocals for the first time in a long while.
In the middle of the track, we hear the most frail and beautiful part as a faint female voice comes in with what sounds to be synth, a small surprise just before the breakdown; truly a display of great prowess in songwriting. The technical riff grooves on forwards really nicely and this is the kind of stuff the band could use to distinguish themselves. Then comes in the breakdown that reveals that the guys have been listening to North American death core while coming up with this track.
Masquarade has also been recorded in different time than the rest so it also sounds better, which breaks the consistency of the album and while the title track, Utopia kicks in, some of it’s charm is lost in the quality of post-processing. Still it grooves and rolls on with its death core elements, with technical death metal riffs, but it seems flat and soulless after a track which has been made so much better in the terms of mixing.
Musically, the track is just simply straightforward speeding, with no room for breaks and it feels dull, offering very limited surface to grip on.
Isomer is the song I best memorized from live gigs and the technical and intresting, almost hypnotic intro riff is the most intresting thing the EP has to offer. The calmer verse after the intro has some catchy groovy rhythmic patterns before it turns into an emotionless blast beat thundering, which luckily don’t last for long before the next part, which leans to the core -side more with really skillful melodic sweeps. Then we hear the intro riff once more before the song takes a turn into a more melodic rhythm section with more technical death metal influences, which seems to be the weakest point of this quintet.
Playing hybrid metal like this, it’s clear that a new band is struggling to make their decision in what path to follow; do we want to be more core or death metal influenced and how do we mix up the two? But when it comes to the latter, the band clearly has some serious work to do if they want to stand out from the rest and make even their own songs distinguish from one another.
I can hear clearly that these guys can make really thrilling and great music when they want to, but at times they settle to go from where the fence is lowest and as a result we have some very generic and boring riffs, such as the Messengers of Dismay which doesn’t give us anything we haven’t heard before, apart from the black metal section in the middle of the song.
I really hope they focus more on the melodic aspect in their music, rather than the mediocre solutions where the drums and vocals only brings the attraction. Luckily the album ends to Ambivalence, which is a bit more better with some really cool rhythmic groove, which is one of the strongpoints I’d like to hear more, even if they would have to shift more to the core axis, but without them, the song would just be one of the rest.
It could also be a sounds matter, the ending song sounds better and more dynamic than most, which also makes every instrument come more alive and you notice small nuances easier but it doesn’t cover the fact that NiD still has lessons to learn in creating music to compete and stand out among the others.
And soundwise, please record everything in the same quality or split your release to a few smaller ones.
Aleksi Kiianlehto – lead vocals
Sami Tenkanen – guitar, backup vocals
Jouni Aaltonen – bass, backup vocals
Joel Stockmare – guitar
Miitrei Misukka – drums
5. Messengers of Dismay