Long before the era when hardcore music featured a smattering of clean vocals, just a dash of electronics, and annoying intro tracks fraught with eerie talking and distant chugging guitars, there was nothing but sweat, passion, and blistering aggression. While not treading any new ground in the genre, Nothing Left successfully bring life back into a stagnant and diluted hardcore scene with the ways of old.
Wasting little time, Destroy and Rebuild lunges straight into a hardcore pit-dweller’s dream as pummeling drums and discordant guitars break through the dam of quiet humming that opens the album. Also apparent right off the bat are the powerfully raw vocals of Nothing Left’s front man of for A Bullet for Pretty Boy fame, Dannon Saylor. Saylor’s vocals have never sounded so raw and and brutish as they do without the accompanied clean vocal and keyboard combination of his former band.
Hands of Death kicks off in high gear with circle pit inducing drums and posi-jump riffing. First and foremost, the drumming chops of Alex Camarena of Silent Planet are some of the best on the album, as he sears through blast beats and tom heavy beats. If the blistering drums were not enough, the Leitru brothers nail one of the tightest ongoing riffs on the album, which morphs into the fiercest breakdown on the album. Amidst raucous dischords that would make Norma Jean proud, Saylor howls, “Left with nothing / This won’t be the death of me / These scars won’t fade away.” to end the track on a crushing note.
Proving to be my favorite track on the album, Eternal Defiance is one of the fastest and most brutal tracks on the album. Channeling their inner Advent, the riffs come fast and hard, never letting up – save for the quick pauses that let loose piercing feedback. Lyrically, Saylor touches on the state of current politics as he proclaims, “Tearing us down to build themselves up / when is enough?” and finally warning, “Death will always follow you / when you tip the scales of justice.”
Burn it Away keeps the high intensity up, and burns into the black sheep of the album, No Way Out. When I say, “Black sheep”, I’m not referring to the typical “ballad track” with clean singing and sampling. While the screaming is just as fierce and the energy just as high, the tempo of No Way Out is a little more reserved than the rest of the album. The penultimate track chooses to engage is a bit of a plodding, beatdown tempo throughout the majority of the track. Later on, dischords reign supreme as Dannon exclaims, “There’s no way out / Death takes us all”.
Ending on a high note, Widen the Wound fits into the same niche created by the opening two tracks, which brings things full circle. Widen the Wound truly shines with its multitude of stop-start riffs, feedback, and simple (yet effective) guitar leads. As the track fades out, the listener will be left wondering what hit them…and then press play once more to enjoy this powerful hardcore gem.
Again, while Nothing Left don’t reinvent the wheel, they aren’t really trying to. The band is a passion project started by the Leitru brothers to create music in the vein of what made them fall in love with music. But what “Destroy and Rebuild” does do is create about 20 minutes of sweat fueled, riff-centric hardcore that’s sure to translate to a life altering live show.
RIYL: Beartooth | Advent | Poured Out