Released: 2001, Independent
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Contrary to the immediate connotations of their name, Nicodemus is neither a Chicago gangster nor a revolutionary new treatment for quitting smoking, but rather an atmospheric quasi-black metal band hailing from California. Long on creativity, fairly lengthy on ambition, this band, while giving a well-meant and sincere effort, has rather a difficult time in really moving a serious metal listener. However, they offer at least something of value with their debut album, the long-winded and sometimes pretentious TALES OF THE LOVELORN AND NECROMANTIC.
The first thing that strikes me about this band is their extremely mechanical sound. While at first I thought I detected the evil and pernicious influence of a drum machine, I find ultimately that a human – one Andrew Greene – is behind the set, but the music itself is tinged with a technological quality. I’m not entirely adverse to this. At the risk of putting my own metal purity (which is, naturally, beyond reproach!) at risk, I confess there’s been a certain fair amount of Wumpscut and Lex Talionis spinning in my CD player during 2001, and Nicodemus at least offers enough cold-sounding agony in that vein to catch my attention. The first track, “Between Tenderness and Violence,” wanders through an essentially aimless landscape, with a few meaty guitar/techno hooks to keep my pulse going. Track two, “In the Loving Arms of Miss Construe,” improves on the theme, pulsing with weird electronic beats while still delivering enough metal to pass muster. Unfortunately both tracks ultimately suffer from weird tempo changes made worse by interminable spoken vocal passages. Arrrgh! Dammit, Nicodemus, you had a halfway decent thing going – Wumpscut you weren’t, not yet, but at least there was something going on behind your walls of fairly interesting ambiance.
Sadly the rest of the CD does not follow through on the positive germinations that are laid in the first few tracks. Vocals are schizophrenic, ranging from traditional Norwegian-style black metal screeches to eerily electronic-distorted passages, including some off-kilter female vox. Some of the tracks toward the middle and end of the CD lose their metal identity almost entirely, being too slow, too light and too consciously atmospheric to really register on the radar screen of a serious metalhead. For example, the seventh track, “Voodoo Whores for the Devil’s Dementia,” sounded like the soundtrack to the climactic chase scene of some 1980s cop show rather than a track on a metal album. Tracks like “And the Night Cries in Return” and “Christabel” most closely approach a true metal vibe, the latter probably being the best track on the album. However, their energy just isn’t consistent enough to carry this whole disc.
Nicodemus does have a lot of creativity, and the driving force behind the band, Christopher Morris, is obviously a musician of considerable ability. Whether TALES OF THE LOVELORN AND NECROMANTIC is worth the time of someone primarily into metal, however, is a very large question indeed. I’d like to hear some more traditional, and more energetic, stuff on a forthcoming album. Beyond that, this isn’t bad, and if you’re feeling in a curious and adventurous mood, may be worth a listen. If you think so, try http://www.darkthronemusic.com
for info on how to get it.