Released: 2002, Century Media
Every fan of melodic death metal knows who Arch Enemy are and also knows of the band’s ousted singer, Jon Liiva. After Jon’s departure from Arch Enemy he immediately set out to start a new band somewhere in the death metal realm. The musicians he found include Johan Reinholdz (Andromeda) for guitars and Matte Modin (Defleshed/Dark Funeral) for drums. No bass player is yet in the band, so Reinholdz played the bass parts in the studio. The album is another product of Abyss studios with Tommy Tägtgren handling production.
The CD opens with an instrumental called “Entrance” that sounds a bit like Entombed. It’s basically the intro to the second track, “The Devil Incarnate,” which still has things in the Entombed feel but with a bit more speed and a little less groove. The chorus for this track made me think of Carcass SWANSONG-era or Blackstar stuff. Not an exact match, but the similarities are there. Even the solo in this song has that kind of feel to it with lots of intense pentatonic bluesy soloing. Not as flashy or as technical as the stuff from Mr. Liiva’s previous band, but the leads fit the style of the song here for sure. Things speed up on the next two tracks – “Faith” and “Eaten Alive”--not quite as ear grabbing as the CD opener but well executed. The solo section of “Eaten Alive” was the only part of the song that caught my ear with some more melodic riffing happening in the background. “A Halo Askew” begins with a very promising intro that gives way to more of the same--not really that stand out. They return to the intro “theme” throughout the song and that made the song for me, too bad they didn’t enhance or build upon the idea there. Again, the solo section of this song will make you wake up and take notice. Reinholdz is an excellent guitarist! “Phantoms” sounds a little more like older Arch Enemy and is one of the more intense death metal sounding songs on here. Up next is “Ebony Tower” which had me thinking Carcass all the way except for the clean guitar part half way in which is NOT something you’d ever hear from Carcass. For a much more death metal sounding track there is “Delirious Tongues,” which was ok, but not at all memorable and suffering from the “heard it all before” syndrome. The CD’s closing track fades in with a matched guitar/kick drum riff that screams out, "Fear Factory!" The similarities only exist for that riff though. This is one of the more catchy tracks on here and a great closer to the album.
For what he does, Jon Liiva is a great vocalist. The problem is he’s basically a one trick doggie. That means you hear the way he sings on one song then you basically know the way he’ll sound for the whole album. Some people will love it, but some like me demand a bit more and something with a bit more variation. The die-hard fans of Arch Enemy, later day Carcass (R.I.P.), and Entombed are the logical candidates for liking this band right away. If you live for that kind of stuff, then you should look into this band immediately. If, however, you are but a casual fan, then running out to pick up Nonexist will not be a priority.
Band Website: http://www.nonexist.tk