Release DetailsLABEL Empire
RELEASED ON 10/31/2007
Non Opus Dei
posted on 3/2008 By:
Here’s a not-so-secret secret: I really don’t like to do follow-ups on bands I’ve previously covered for the sole reason that, nine times out of nine times, they’ll disappoint the shit out of me. That’s why I felt really bad about taking on Non Opus Dei’s Constant Flow. I wasn’t exactly in love with their ‘06 offering The Quintessence--I called it clumsy and I slayed quite a few of the tracks for being bereft of any substance or heft (Also, I didn‘t cover it for here, which should be noted. My main man Michael Wuensch hit that for us and he's a better writer than I ever could be, so, uh, read his)--but I did find it mighty promising. It was just a cool little record, sitting somewhere between the blackened riff-fest of later Khold and the damaged rhythmic sense of a Kobong, Neuma, or Nyia (An appropriate comparison since this Polish band once housed a Nyia member). I think I liked it mainly because it wasn’t your typical slice of blackened metal. It was appealingly groovy and just plain bizarre when you started pealing layers away. That and the band seemed to be split between trying to keep their trveness (a wacky near-ambient folk song plugged right in the middle of the album) and being futuristic (a straight up odd sense of how to use dissonant chords). So, as I normally did when something caught my ear, I prophesized about great things on the horizon…but I really didn’t believe it would happen. Pessimistic assholes like me never really believe things like that because bands like Non Opus Dei always have had a knack for letting us down hard by making a promising album their lone artistic statement. Then, they’re either stuck in the cycle, doing the same thing over and over again until they become a parody of themselves, or just plain turning to crap. You're left singing the original album praises on message boards and prefacing that love with, “Back when they were good,” or “Jesus, they’re nothing like this now.” It always happened that way. Always. So, I steered clear of follow-ups.
But, a year and a little bit later, I have to say that I’m impressed. Not only has Constant Flow improved on nearly all aspects of the band’s original blueprint, but, like the title suggests, it flows like the owner of an overfull bladder subjected to the warm water treatment while listening to Rakim (My thought process: “Hey, let‘s force another shitty analogy in there. This isn‘t bad enough…”). It’s then that I realized that the majority of their success came from something I usually found abhorrent; they tightened the reigns on their eclecticism. Two years ago, that was their strongest feature; that they could do all these weird things across a record, like having a quirky groover sit right next to a bloodthirsty war metal track. So, in an interesting (could I use that word any more? It’s like the word “like” for self-important jackasses) turn of events, Constant Flow succeeds because they have a far greater focus and turned their rather malleable sound and vision into a sharp, pointed attack comprised of some angular and some discordant riffs plus their unique sense of rhythm (for a black metal band, at least).
If you can (and I know you can since you’re on the net if you’re reading this, you liar), cruise on by to YouTube and check out their video for “Saule’s Gift” to get a taste of their sound. The video itself is goofy, but the music, to these ears at least, is a fine combination of industrialized and blackened kick assness. It reminds me of the kind of sound that Nattramn was going for on his Diagnose: Lebensgefahr project, but with the self-conscious weirdness sucked out and purported “insanity” traded for an undeniable viciousness…and that works fine by me. Vicious is a fine word to describe the entire album, a controlled constant flow (see what I did there? High fives needed. Parents never hugged me enough) of anger. Look up “Alne” to see what I mean. The opening moves in a rather dumbed-down Meshuggahian fashion, sure, but it sits closer to the kind of stuff played by drummer Gonzo’s other band, Third Degree. The middle is straight black metal with damaged howls (it needs to be said, that the vocal performance on this record is light years beyond the last one. Kudos), but it also never loses sight of the groove or the way they tend to flood the audio channels with abrasive and dissonant chords while the other guitar supplies the chugs. But, that’s overanalyzing this stuff surely, because, for the first time, everything seems to come together and click for Non Opus Dei across an entire album. It never reaches amazing heights, but it’s consistently good and sometimes that’s all you want and all you ask for. I know it was all I wanted and the trepidation I felt about claiming this bad bitch turned out to be completely unfounded. So, sometimes the unexpected does happen and, while Constant Flow isn’t quite Manning to Plaxico, I’ll gladly take it.
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