Is it a bad thing if the best tracks of an album are the ones with contributions from other artists? Probably depends on several things: how much better are these tracks, who is the collaborato or on the overall quality of the album. In the case of Nostromo and their new album Bucephale we must assess that the overall quality is high, the collaborators are mind-blowing and therefore these two tracks simply play in a class of their own – like SuperLeague compared to ChampionsLeague, ay?
If a band is added to the Hellfest-line-up eleven years after they called it quits, that must mean something. Nostromo from Geneva, Switzerland, experienced exactly this in 2017 and it showed them that there are enough people out there, who want to hear their take on extreme metal somewhere between Grindcore, Post-Metal, Sludge and Industrial. Some of the references might be Pig Destroyer, Meshuggah, Tool and Slipknot.
Am I just dropping these because they sound good? No! Listen to a track like ”IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder)” you will surely notice the djent-adjacent syncopathed guitar sounds that Meshuggah are known for. The track is talking about the problems of bipolar disorders and having to face problems head-first because you do not know any other way of coping with them. The vocals by Javier Varela are very close to Grindcore shouts which are a bit over the top in order to achieve that certain anxiety and feverishness, which is definitely achieved in these three minutes which seamlessly blend with the next track ”In Praise of Betrayal” which has some riffs that are clearly a bit industrial but blend in with the other material very nicely. One could also drop Fear Factory’s Demanufacture here as a possible influence.
Sometimes Javier sounds more like Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, but who could also imitate Burton C. Bell’s near opear-like vocals. And if you listen to the first collab on this record ”κατάϐασις” and do not imagine the highly rhythmic breathing to be the opener to a certain Tool song with a very similar intro (and middle part) then I guess you simply have not heard ”Ænima” yet. Yet! ” κατάϐασις” (“katávasis”, translated as “understanding”) is Nostromo’s collaboration with Treha Sektori, one of these Church of Ra-related projects. Naturally, one must admit that this is a world-class collab but it also functions so well in the context of the whole album, because it slows it down a bit and takes it to the sludgier side of things.
The second collaboration is ”Asato Ma” featuring Psychedelic rockers Monkey3 and this track is the grand finale of Bucephale with a slowly shuffling beat underneath a very heavy and chunky riff whose tonality purveys some of that Monkey3 tuning. The slightly ecclesiastical synth underneath the whole track only adds to the very interesting flavor of the whole track, which is also the longest on the whole record. When the spacey guitar solo with its ebb and flow technique sets in, the audience surely will feel as if they are inside the spaceship that will take them into other dimensions as one sees by the fact that, when you look outside, there is a whole different world out there.
Nostromo show that collaborations are a very good means in order to lift a record even higher as its already “definitely stronger than the average genre”-level. This band, this record and these ten tracks are surely state of the art in extreme metal and will leave a lasting impression of you. And how you judge the value of these collabs will be up to everyone to decide for oneself. The band is able to embed to world class into a good record without the other tracks feeling inadequate or less valuable to the audience’s ear. Given the skills of the collaborators that tells us something about Bucephale! Great work, guys!