Review: Nesseria, Fractures (Throatruiner, 2014)

It's been a few years since I last checked in on Orléans, France's Nesseria—who recently issued their second full-length, Fractures, through French label Throatruiner Records (with a CD pressing by Russia's Grains of Sand, and a cassette via another French imprint, Swarm of Nails). The album's 10 tracks/37 minutes find the band's grinding "metalcore" fury becoming increasingly dark and dissonant—occasionally even leaning on a bit of a black metal aesthetic with the presence of winding discordant riffs or gnashing blasts with ringing, dissonant chord phrasings (perhaps drawing influence from/comparison to their countrymen in Deathspell Omega). The material offers a steady mix of tempos, from rumbling wisps of atmospheric texture (during the sporadic intro/interlude) and hard-hitting midpaced breaks—at times even accented by tinges of melody—to Nesseria's patented brand of fast 'n' frantic bursts that teeter on the edge of complete chaos without abandoning a sense of control.

While there is diversity to be found within their approach, Fractures as a whole is cohesive and fairly similar from track to track. "Cent Mille Fois par Jour" is the first piece that jumps out as atypical, with its surprisingly straightforward opening riff of borderline old school thrash. Such "simplicity" is uncommon for Nesseria, who tend to twist and mangle things up in such a way that there's usually a certain degree of manic ferocity involved. The only time such surprises recur is during the closing instrumental, "Omayra," where pulsing basslines and relaxed percussion mingle with lighter, arguably "post-rock"-flavored guitar melodies over a base of droning synths.

The production is ruggedly warm but still powerful, and everything is mixed very tightly together—which keeps the amazingly intense vocal screams in check, but can tend to overwhelm the bass presence during the most ragingly intense musical passages. The drumming is fucking stellar, cranking out a lot of great changeups and subtle flare with roundabout fills that really add to the impact of the material, but can also be overpowered at times by the guitars and vocals. It feels like more of a sonic characteristic than simply the volume levels, though: neither the guitars nor the vocals come across as too loud, it's just that sonically some details of the rhythm section get eaten up here and there. No big deal, but minor adjustments could be a benefit in the future.

The lyrics are in French, with English translations provided, and seem to deal with the day-to-day grind of the proverbial "machine," and the general populace's lack of either awareness or willingness to rise above the mindless drudgery—along with a bit of a "world keeps turning" type of attitude towards the cold reality of existence. A couple of tracks also dish it out against religion and the hollow posturing of bands with their "plastic satanism" and "fake-punk irony."

Fractures puts forth a few promising twists that might yield more in the future, but is otherwise exactly what I expected based on Nesseria's past efforts. They're very good at what they do, however, so the "expected" sits just fine. As usual, Throatruiner Records is offering the album as a free download, which might encourage the vaguely curious to give it a fair shot. Or, if streaming's your thing, hit up the Nesseria Bandcamp page.

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