Nihilanth - Graceless Planet

Nihilanth are a death metal group from France and “Graceless Planet” is their debut album. A good mix of old school and technical death metal, fans of groups like Vital Remains and Deicide will find the speed and tones right up their alley. It is fast and grim, but not so blast beat driven that it causes headaches. The opening ‘Le Desosseur…’ pretty much sets the stage for what Nihilanth are all about. The gritty growls, chugging riffs, machine gun drums, and blasphemous yet dark tones are everything a 90s death metal fan could want. However, it is the second track ‘Endless Red Stream’ that really will surprise fans. While there aren’t too many tracks like this on the album, this one stands out by keeping things old school but also adding technical elements. There is even a bass solo which will remind fans of something Necrophagist might do before it explodes into a rather doomy, dark set of riffs that sets Nihilanth apart from the average Deicide or Vital Remains knock off. Despite the album sounding like an attempt to be “Forever Underground” from 1997 the band shys away from being overly epic and include a bit more melody in their solos.

Sadly these bass driven technical moments are short lived as other tracks like ‘Inversion Of Values’ and ‘A Promontory of Pain’ feel like a call back to faster, more repetitive death metal from days of “Insineratehymn.” The only thing that might make one feel like they aren’t listening to Deicide all over is the incredibly melodic solos injected. But, “Graceless Planet” has a trick up its sleeve. ‘The Cairn’ is another curve ball that showcases the band’s talent for the unorthodox. Much like ‘Wraith’ from Dark Fortress from “Ylem” Nihilanth bring in acoustic guitars and overall a completely different tone that no one would expect. A somber instrumental with progressive elements it serves as a nice break or WTF moment, depending on one’s taste in interludes. Death metal purists might skip it to go straight back to the brutality, but it is tasteful break and shows that the group can go in so many varied directions that there is no way anyone is going to be stuck with a re-hash on their second album (hopefully).

The break in between death metal fury seems to have rejuvenated the group’s energy because the last few tracks hit with full force. While tracks like ‘Entity’ and ‘Shared Minds’ feel like the most ferocious offerings on the album, they also seem to pale in comparison with the lack of diversity between the two while the earlier tracks did their best to inject melody, technicality, and groove. Thankfully there is the ‘Visions of Al-hazred’ which closes on some excellent groove and melody, shaking things up. Overall, Nihilanth have a very solid old school death metal album with some touches that make them stand out from the average gritty 90s sound, but the underground still flows from them freely with all the Vital Remains comparisons (pre Benton era of course). The grim touches are probably what will attract listeners the most along with the fury of the pace, but the fury isn’t completely overwhelming. There’s enough to mosh here but lots of breathing room too. For those who like death metal with a bit of a curve and isn’t as straightforward as a group like Deicide, then "Graceless Planet" is worth the spin.

4 / 5 STARS

1. Le Desosseur De Cadavres
2. Endless Red Stream
3. Inversion Of Values
4. A Promontory Of Pain
5. The Cairn
6. Shared Minds
7. Entity
8. Visions Of Al-Hazred