Review: Nucleus – Sentient

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Strange things are afoot in the death metal underground, my friends. Well below the surface where brutality and gore reign supreme, perhaps just to the left of Eil’udom where the Typhlodians keep Chthe’ilist locked away, there’s a lab marked “Top Secret” where the likes of Demilich, Adramelech, Timeghoul and perhaps even Suffocation have been mutating their sounds and combining them with the best science fiction on tap. The door has been opened and the beast has been unleashed. Its name is Nucleus and it wants to throw you into a black hole.

In case you couldn’t gather it from that introduction, Nucleus play an off-kilter brand of death metal that lives within the works of science fiction greats like Frank Herbert and Dan Simmons among others. Theirs is a mix of old school death metal, modern death metal, and technicality that brings to mind visions of a highly advanced futuristic world that is clearly built on the design and ideals of past societies. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a really good combo?

Their debut full length, Sentient, is a great mix of mind-warping time signatures, twisting riffs and some more traditional death metal chugs and growls. After a brief build up you’re jettisoned immediately into the chaos of “Dosadi,” based on Frank Herbert’s The Dosadi Experiment. Riffs bend and seemingly melt to give way to other, more angular riffs. The drums pound in an almost tribal manner while all other instruments dance around them. The next song, “Cantos,” offers a brief glimpse of OSDM at the start before devolving into what I can only describe as a robotic freak out. This back and forth between continues throughout the album and really is its lifeblood.

One of my personal favorites on the album is the track “Cube.” It not only offers some of the most headbangable sections of the album and an absolutely demented sounding solo, but its subject matter happens to be one of my favorite scifi films, Cube (If you’ve never seen it go watch it ASAP). The way to a metal blog nerd’s heart is truly through riffs and movie references.

The last trio of songs may be the strongest on the album. “Ancient” offers a much more straightforward approach that reminds me of Suffocation’s stompier songs, and the Frank Mullen vibe from the vocals certainly don’t hurt. “Extirpate” offers the catchiest chorus on the album, but don’t let that fool you. It isn’t a sing-along or a sudden shift towards melodicism. This is catchy in the way Ozzy era Sabbath is catchy, where you have a supremely rad riff that the vocals mimic, only the vocals are guttural and the riff is pure Demilich. “Starflyer” is far and away the longest song on the album, but it flies by in a heartbeat all while incorporating every element they’ve shown on the album thus far.

Sentient is an inventive and gripping death metal album, and at an incredibly brief 37 minutes it will leave you longing. As we arrive at the quarter pole of this year, Nucleus have claimed a spot alongside Chthe’ilist as not only being one of the best up and coming death metal acts, but as having one of the strongest death metal releases of the year. The future is brighter than the double suns of Tattooine for this Chicago quartet. I can only hope that their sophomore album offers a song as absurd as Cube 2: Hypercube or one as confusing as Primer.

NEW_TOILETSCALE_4_of_5

Sentient releases April 15th via Unspeakable Axe Records. Preorder it here and show Nucleus and Unspeakable Axe some facebook love here and here.

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  • Eliza

    I’ve been hyped for this for a while. Glad to know it’s a good album.

  • Jom Pootersan

    Weird that I’ve seen these guys open in shitty Chicago dive bars, now they’re getting some attention. Well deserved

    • Jason Kolkey

      But still playing a Chicago dive in a couple weeks!

  • Dubs

    2016 has been very interesting. Overall, I think it’s weaker than 2015 (so far, at least), but we’ve also gotten a number of strong debut albums for bands who definitely seem poised to do great things in death metal. Good review, and I look forward to hearing more.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      2015 was cray though.

      • Jom Pootersan

        2015 was a great year

    • Salvador Dalí Lama

      I don’t know about 2016 being weaker. I’ve enjoyed a few releases a lot (David Bowie, Årabrot, Abbath, Plebeian Grandstand, The Old Wind [split w/ Cult of Luna], Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Savages, to name a few) this year.

      And there’s new Gorguts, White Lung, Deftones, and Mike & the Melvins coming very soon. I’m pretty pleased with the albums that have clicked with me.

      • Dubs

        A few of those you’ve listed aren’t out yet…

        • Salvador Dalí Lama

          Plebeian gives you a download of the album if you pre-order.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            False Highs, True Lows *insert flame emoji*

          • Dubs

            Yah, I got the download. I’m just saying that it’s more beneficial to compare what’s actually been released, imo.

          • Salvador Dalí Lama

            True, but in a way it has been released, so I wasn’t sure to add it to upcoming or albums out there.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Lots of people have heard it already…

          • Dubs

            Well, you are correct that it will be a flame emoji (in addition to the CoL stuff).

    • 2015’s best releases were mostly black metal, seems like 2016 is gonna be a death metal year, which I’m cool with.

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        2016, the year of Death.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          That’s every year in my mind.

        • Eliza

          That sounds surprisingly right.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            In more ways than one, unfortunately.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          Every year is a Death year.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZvI1mXY3QQ

          • Eliza

            Upvoted for Death.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Upvoted for upvoting Death.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Upvoted for upvoting the upvoted Death.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Upvoted for upvoting the upvoting of the upvoted Death.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Upvote for copious amounts of upvoting going on!

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Too many upvotes. I need a couple of downvotes.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYnpWEoGmE8

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Done, lol

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Dammit. I hate downvoting people. I don’t think I’ve actually ever done so.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            In this case, there’s no other way.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I love letting them fly. Downvote to obscurity.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Does disqus even show downvotes?

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            In a way. You can “inspect the element” to see if you have received any. We had a couple of old members that constantly checked their own comments for downvotes and it was fucking hilarious, lol

          • byah! (miss that guy)

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Haha! Got it.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            While typing on my phone, I’ve accidently downvoted a couple of times before while I actually intended to upvote lol

          • Eliza

            That happens to me pretty often. It’s annoying.

          • Eliza

            *tears of sadness*

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            I can’t comprehend it.
            https://youtu.be/LFYcOMXizZY

          • [YouTube: Hum – Suicide Machine]

    • we’re all gonna complain about 2016 until 2017 comes around. then we’ll all publish lists of “albums i didn’t appreciate in 2016” 😉

      • Eliza

        It’s the circle of life.

  • RustyShackleford

    Awesome review man. I dig the way you describe the music, which ain’t easy to do. Also that solo was dank. Yup!

  • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

    Excellent review Leif! You are spot on about riffs and movie references. I can’t wait for mailmanbro to deliver this album to me, it’s already on the way. Surely it will slay!

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Mailmanbro seems to be a regular visitor to your house, Boss.

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        …yeah, my pocketbook hates it. I need to cut back, but there are a lot of releases coming out. Taxreturnbro helped out a bit though.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          Taxreturnbro always helps.
          Like I said, in terms of physical releases I’m still doing a lot of catch-up. So now I’m busy completing my physical collection of the albums I love and already had digitally. I still have about 185 to go…
          I’m expecting mailmanbro to drop Amorphis’ Silent Waters and Type O Negative’s October Rust by my house tomorrow.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            I need to make some spreadsheets for my list.

            Nice grabs.

            I’ve been getting older stuff as well.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Yeah I just looked at my list. 183 is the current number, but when some of this year’s upcoming releases turn out to surprise me in a positive way, they’ll have to be added to the list as well.
            For instance, to my surprise that recently released Fallujah song actually caught my interest.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Yeah, the unexpected one’s hit hardest. My bandcamp list is waaaaaaaay to long.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            And this review reminded me of the fact I still have to buy a physical copy of Nespithe…
            Maybe that’ll be for next month.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Prioritizing lists suck.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Purchasing physical copies of albums you own digitally must be brutal in a way…

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            I’m cool with it. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing my physical collection shine in my cd rack.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I wanna buy a record player. Listening to digital only is a little numbing…

          • I love my record player and my vinyl collection but good lord is it a stupid and expensive thing to get into.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Yep. No regrets though, it helps me differentiate what I really want from what mildly interests me

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I’d like to do vinyl rather than CDs since (laughably) I feel like CDs are the outdated medium of the two…

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            CD’s are less classy and probably more outdated than vinyl is at the moment, but for some reason I’m really drawn to them.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            I like CDs too.

          • I prefer cds since volkswagen decided not to add a record player to my dashboard..the lazy bastards!

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            8-track, baby.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Currently I have an installation with a cd player and a nice set of wireless headphones. That way I can go throughout the house while still being able to listen to music without pausing.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            See, that’s the kind of shit that matters to me.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        Son of a bitch owes me a book.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          At the moment he owes me 5 albums. But the month’s almost over, so I’ll probably place a few more orders in 5 days.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I think they shipped my book to Arizona (I live in Minnesota) and they’re calling it a day, lol

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Damn, I think in this case a strongly worded conversation with them won’t do any harm.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            I hate to curse the mailmanbro, but THAT BASTARD!

        • Scrimm

          Waiting on books<<<<<

    • Eliza

      You made a rhyme.

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        Hahahahaha! I did, didn’t I?

        • Eliza

          Was it intentional.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            It was not.

          • Eliza

            You were a poet and you didn’t even know it.

  • Fucking April. Nucleus, Game of Thrones, Dark Souls 3, Fallujah, and probably like 30 things Im forgetting.

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      I’m really lookjng forward to the new Barbarian.

      • Dubs

        Do you want it? I can send you the promo.

        • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

          I almost fell out of my chair just now. You tempt me, but I think I want to wait. I’ll let you know later if I change my mind.

          • Dubs

            kk

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            I’m jamming that latest promo you sent. Expect a review some point this week.

          • Dubs

            Eggsalad

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Man you just had to bring up Game of Thrones and DSIII, didn’t you Bauer?

    • Spear

      Zenith Passage

    • Eliza

      I’m also really looking forward to this, but I think I’m the only one.
      http://store.merhq.com/album/elephant-tree

  • This doesn’t come out for another fucking 2 weeks!? You’re killing me, mustachio’d mammalian predator.

    • Eliza

      The pain is real.

  • I love Cube, bearman. I also love Cube 2: Hypercube for completely different reasons. More people need to appreciate these movies.

    • Dubs

      They need to make a Time Cube movie.

      • It will be 900 hours long.

        • Spherical or cubic Earth hours?

          • aren’t they the same?
            -Matthew McConaughey (doesn’t matter if Interstellar or Trve Detective)

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I really enjoyed Interstellar the second time I saw it.

          • Eliza

            I’ve only seen it once and I thought it was a very good film.

      • Leif Bearikson

        Would that be like a Cube and Time Cop crossover? I’ll allow it.

    • Leif Bearikson

      It was devastating to see that Cube Zero was such utter trash. At least we’ll always have that super weird, time warp sex death scene from Hypercube.

      • I never saw Cube Zero (or if I did, I’ve completely forgotten it). I’d say it’s about time for a series reboot.

        • Dubs

          What about Sphere (geometry jokes).

        • Cube Zero: cool concept, but no movie has ever needed a prequel, ever.

    • CT-12

      Cube is great in concept, but the last time I watched it, it was more than a little cringe-y in execution; still, a good watch nonetheless. It’s funny how many movies I really like that have that same problem (ie They Live, The Purge 2, etc)

  • Spear

    Fuck yeah, I was hoping this would live up to the hype. April can’t come soon enough.

  • Jason Kolkey

    NERDS!

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      THAT’S RIGHT!

    • Jason Kolkey

      I hereby declare beef with Nucleus. I say that Dave’s nerdiness is false. He’s just trying to trick all the nerd boys into listening to his riffs. Will no one stand up for ethics in nerd-themed metal?

      • I support this beef between you two giant nerds. Let the shit talking commence!

      • Dubs

        May he with the Squirrel Girl tattoo cast the first stone.

        • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

          You mentioned Squirrel Girl… the most powerful of all.

      • Dave Muntean

        Do you want to believe?

        • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

          DAVE!

        • Jason Kolkey

          Pfft, Repping for a show that had nine successful seasons. Real nerds just watch Firefly and Babylon 5 over and over again. And Farscape.

          .

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Dammit. You just named 3 of my top 5 favorite scifi shows…

          • Jason Kolkey

            If one of the others is DS9, we can raise nerd babies together.

          • Dubs

            Just two dudes workin’ together to raise a baby.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            HOLY SHIT!
            Tell me you’re a BSG fan and the deal is sealed.

          • Jason Kolkey

            But of course. This dude-bond is real.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            We are forever bound in scfi and metal brotherhood.

          • Jason Kolkey

            Wimps and poseurs, leave the Hall.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            HAIL!

          • Dave Muntean

            One of the songs on our first ep was about bsg

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Yes, the Colony!
            I got my cd in a couple weeks ago, thanks for the stickers!

        • Leif Bearikson

          Few things make me hapier than ‘Zilla love. Gigan rules.

        • Dave Muntean

          Fireflys okay

  • Leif Bearikson

    I guess I need to stop slacking and pick up Dune now.

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      i did just today

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      Yes you do.

    • The audiobook on audible is phenomenal. Excellent narration and cast of readers for the different characters.

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        That sounds like fun actually.

  • well i’m blown away (no jokes to see here, folks)!

  • I feel like this is something I desperately need to listen to.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    How did I miss this, good grief.