ALBUM REVIEW: The Great Dismal by Nothing

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

By now, Nothing is a household name. The band has been around for ten years with four full length records, and an array of splits, EPs, and loose single projects. Creating a fourth album is always hard for a band; the pressure is on for them to keep up the momentum of previous releases, and to stay fresh. In the case of Nothing, not only have they exceeded expectations, but they have put out their best record to date.  

The Philadelphia shoegaze outfit continues to push the bar higher with this new record. Once again the band returned to Studio 4 in Conshohocken, PA to work with the man himself, Will Yip. Fans may notice this is the second time the band has decided to partner up with Yip, the first being the band’s 2016 record Tired of Tomorrow. With that history already established and the addition of newcomer Doyle Martin (known from his work with Cloakroom) the race was on to make a classic record. The band and Yip recorded this record during the early weeks of quarantine at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. What they came out with is in fact not only Nothing’s best record to date, but a modern day classic shoegaze record. 

Nothing is known for their outrageously loud music. Their wild and off the wall sound has become a staple of the band, so when they begin the record with a slow ballad type song like “A Fabricated Life” it could definitely throw listeners off. The band relies on their atmosphere, and lead singer/mastermind Dominic Palermo to carry the song with his low and hushed vocals. The song almost puts you into a dream-like state. That is until “Say Less” begins, and Nothing’s signature swirling guitars come into the fold. The crashing drums of Kyle Kimball should also be noted as he bangs away at them as if it’s his last song he’ll ever play. Kyle always leaves it out there, and is one of the best drummers in music. Aaron Heard’s crunchy bass is always such an underrated feature of the last two Nothing albums, and seemingly nobody does it quite like him.

“April Ha Ha” continues that same high intensity, and “Catch a Fade” takes a more chilled out approach. The track sounds like an alt-rock track more than anything. “Famine Asylum” is a highlight on the first half of the record. Whether it’s Palermo’s haunting vocals, the drums that take over the track, or even the wild music video that accompanies this song, it’s one of Nothing’s best. How do you possibly follow up a song like “Famine Asylum?” It’s simple, you put “Bernie Sanders” next, where the band continues to use the same energy as the previous. The next track, “In Blueberry Memories,” sounds like a song from the band’s past where the emphasis on incredibly loud and detailed guitars takes over, but the production this time around is unmatched.

The tone of the record shifts to a more somber, a more relaxed and stripped back tone with “Blue Mecca,” a song that quite literally feels like the apocalypse, but is so entrawling that it grabs your attention, especially when the guitars take over about midway through. “Just a Story” feels like a build up to the climatic “Ask the Rust,” which is a strung out head banger. What we are left here is quite literally a masterpiece. Nothing has truly outdone themselves with this record. To think, something that was created over the course of a global pandemic, is the bright spot of 2020. Nothing has pushed themselves to create the biggest record they have ever made, and with the help of Will Yip, they have established themselves as one of the premiere shoegaze bands of this 21stcentury.

Track list:

  1. A Fabricated Life
  2. Say Less
  3. April Ha Ha
  4. Catch a Fade
  5. Famine Asylum
  6. Bernie Sanders
  7. In Blueberry Memories
  8. Blue Mecca
  9. Just a Story
  10. Ask the Rust

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