posted on 5/2010 By:
For a country with a population around five million people, it seems to me that Finland has produced more than its fair share of quality metal, particularly in the death metal realm. Unfortunately, while Nation Despair has released a respectable debut EP in Ruins, the band will not be joining the ranks of Amorphis, Demigod and Demilich just yet.
Nation Despair's deep guttural vocals and melodic guitar hooks tie the band inextricably to melodic death metal, but the band’s rhythm playing reveals strong influences from mid-nineties groove metal. Most of the tracks on the EP follow a formula, opening with chunky, syncopated riffing and then introducing a melodic theme that the band rides to the songs conclusion. The result of this dual identity songwriting is that one moment Nation Despair sounds like Machine Head and the next Arch Enemy. “Oblivion” is one of the EP's best tracks, as the band manages to capture a hint of Amon Amarth’s epic sound, while joining the groove to the melody in such a way that the seams are not so obvious. "Elizabeth” is notable in that the band breaks out of its mid-paced rut for some full-on thrashing, but it only lasts for a criminally brief thirteen seconds.
None of the tracks on Ruins are real clunkers; Nation Despair has more than adequate chops to bring its songs to life, and Ruins is not hampered by any notable production woes, but let us face facts: Neither of the genre wagons to which the band has hitched itself are headed anywhere near the forefront of metal creativity or popularity. The band's combination of styles may be unusual, but the individual components are nothing new. However, combining two entirely played-out genres and ending up with a recording that is not a complete trainwreck of awkwardness and tedium is no mean feat. Nation Despair clearly has some talent, but they need a better vehicle to display it.
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