Following a tumultuous year of rejection and addiction which culminated in a near-fatal car crash and arrest for assault with a deadly weapon, Nick Noro hit bottom. No Grief takes us down there with him. This is not an album for the casual listener. Nor is it something you can chuck on in the car during your morning commute (unless your job involves huddling under a desk on a come-down for 8 hours). No Grief is more than an album, it is an experience.
Experimental (experiMetal?) noise at it’s most raw, No Grief was produced in collaboration with Brits Merdumgiriz Records.
We are welcomed by monotone robot voices reminding us “pain from Survival. No Grief”; a refrain/motif which is repeated throughout to ensure we know our robotic overlords have our best interests at heart. After which we are thrown overboard into a sea of sound.
Stand Tall is a Brechtian, atonal dirge. Industrial grinding flits in and out of recognisable phrasing like a whisper in a nightmare, tormented voices rise to the surface like a tortured mantra, torn (we must assume) from the singer’s very soul. It is the first and only track recognisable as a song in the traditional sense. From here on out you’re on your own.
Calibrator is a web of torture and pain , wrenched from the musicians via their instruments. Brief periods of musical respite pop up, but if such comfort is to be allowed then it is momentary before we are plunged back in to the fray. Dragged under by the roiling noise.
Wordless, save for briefly spat out unintelligible phrases, thin guitar echoes like the screeching of birds in a desolate landscape decorated only by the inner contents of our minds.
Love on Smack takes us back to the grind(core). It sounds like nausea feels and is the first track with words but they are muffled and distorted and we have to feel as much as hear them. A lovers lament heard through a wall of drug-fuelled distortion.
The next three tracks are 1.55 min snippets which crash us through Spanish guitar played backwards (Clergy), indie rock dragged through vocoder hell (Final Departure) and what I can only describe as industrial jazz-core. The screams of guitars mashed together with non instruments creates metal-on-metal distortion as the urge to cower and hide from the horror becomes real.
Agony Overthrown continues the torture; like thrash played inside a garbage can, while the mewling wretch of a vocalist has his words dragged out over coals.
Symphonic Grace provides female vocals and an almost-harmony. A light respite in the form of a woman, cold, synthesised comfort floating through the musical mire.
Your House is awash with 80s goth stylings. Post punk peeks out behind the grinding wall of noise with extra cowbell, telling us to “Never go back to that smack”. A spoken word opener as we remain in post punk. This is the closest thing to an actual song. 1.55 mins of crunchy, distorted noise overlaid by an anti-ode to the horrors of smack. Classic metal guitar interjects and morphs into Pantera-like riffs before abruptly ending.
We traverse America through spoken word and screamo hardcore before coming to the Surface of the Sky Detached.
All thrash and drums, this could be the theme from a post-modern Happening. Nightmares on smack. We are taken nowhere but in circles, drowning deeper in the mind of the creator. Trapped by walls of industrial noise and unintelligible words, we bounce from dream to dream descending deeper into the nightmare.
Rating this will be pretty much arbitrary. I have no way to rate someone else’s inner turmoil. If you want to spend 29mins wading in the mixed emotions of a recovering addict then it is probably worth the $100 he is asking for it.