As this is one of the heaviest pieces of music I've reviewed for Metal Discovery there are a couple of things you need to know about my relationship with extreme metal. I only do blast beats in small quantities when it adds something to the song (constant ultra speed just leaves me cold) and the same can be said for one tone, barked and screamed 'singing'. Harsh vocals also need light and shade but some vocalists just sound like they are vomiting on the microphone, regardless of the song. Now that's out of the way I'll introduce you to 'Nova', the sophomore album from Mycelia. Hailing from Switzerland, Mycelia were formed in 2010 and, according to the press release, "have an expansive collection of influences and an intoxicating presence that draws from the progressive and technical metal musings of The Human Abstract and Meshuggah" and also have a sound "that will utterly consume you". I'm not familiar with this band but, even though I have reviewed a couple of short albums recently, Mycelia are taking the piss. At just over 27 minutes in length I'm struggling to contemplate this as an album, especially as the material contained within appears to be a complete hodge-podge of ideas. To my ears, at least, Mycelia simply don't know what they want to be.
I don't like track by track reviews but it's hard not to say something about each song here and not always in a positive light. Opener 'Shmashmortion' sounds as muddled as its title. Those blast beats are there in abundance, rendering the song messy. There doesn't appear to be any structure with riffs, bass and drums all over the place and, as for vocalist Marc Fürer, well, he just sounds like he's gargled with bleach. Some of you might call it progressive technical death metal, I just call it incoherent. 'Ectoparasite' is just as heavy but fairs slightly better because Mycelia slow down a little. 'Dopamine' is a shortish, bland instrumental interlude, which leads into the longest track on the album, 'C.O.R.P', and, all of a sudden, there are clean vocals. Unfortunately, they are poor, as is the song. 'The Timemasheen' is up next, another instrumental, and bizarrely a trance/dubstep track which is so out of place that the word pointless comes to mind. Third instrumental/interlude 'Event Horizon' is trance with guitars. It's repetitive and sounds so computerised (as does much of the album) that you wonder if anyone was actually in the studio playing an instrument when it was recorded. I know technology has advanced in leaps and bounds but still...
Then, just as I was thinking I would have to listen to this at least half a dozen times, a thought that was inducing noises similar to the singing, the final, three part track 'The Golden Ratio' begins with a beautiful piano introduction and it is far and away the best piece of music on the whole album. There is more cohesion, melodies work within the context of the song and the band actually sound like they are all playing the same thing. Vocals are still a barked, one dimensional mess but because the music works (great piano passages can be found throughout) they become less of a sore point. If only they could have written more along these lines then I might not be giving Mycelia so much stick.
'Nova' should really have been an EP release entitled 'Bits & Pieces' because that's what it sounds and feels like. Perhaps I'll be called 'narrow minded' again for not understanding what Mycelia are trying to do but so be it. Other than the one song which shows much promise, the only "intoxicating presence" I'm feeling after listening to this is similar to a bad hangover and the only thing "utterly consumed" is my brain trying to figure out why every other review I've seen of this seems to think it's so flipping good! I must be getting old!
Review by Rick Tilley
15th July 2013
5) The Timemasheen
6) Event Horizon
7) The Golden Ratio: Prologue
8) The Golden Ratio: Interlude
9) The Golden Ratio: Epilogue
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Other than the one song which shows much promise, the only "intoxicating presence" I'm feeling after listening to this is similar to a bad hangover..."