Album: Burden – EP
With every time we lie, cheat, steal or abuse, we take on weight. For every instance of incredulity and dishonesty, our spine shrinks a centimeter and our shoulders bough. Men and women don’t die of disease—It isn’t cancer that does is in—It is the weight of all our imperfections smothering us, caving in our lungs and reducing our spines to shrapnel. If violence and discontent just adds mass to the boulders on our backs, maybe that’s how Northern Virginian ne’er-do-wells Nautilus got so damn heavy. Burden, the group’s debut EP, is more violent than the civil war and about as straightforward as a sledgehammer to the face. Nautilus combine deathcore’s disastrous thirst for blood with beatdown hardcore’s bold, no-holds-barred nature to bury the listener in murderous misanthropy by the megaton.
Nautilus don’t leave much to the imagination—but that’s not to say they aren’t imaginative in their insidious approach to downtempo deathcore. If you’ve ever wondered what the bastard child of Black Tongue and The Acacia Strain might sound like, look no further than Burden, a beast of a release that won’t stop until the listener is thoroughly ravaged. Percussionist Danny Pergament is punishing, lacing Nautilus’ bloody-knuckle beatdown song structure with speedy, flashy fills and quick kick drum patterns. His adaptation of The Acacia Strain’s “Beast” is particularly powerful proof of this—as when the listener compared Nautilus’ cover and the original, Pergament’s percussive expertise becomes evident. Pergament’s prowess is also evident on the barn-burner “Kalina,” where his kick drum tone is as perfect as the pattern he plays on it. “Kalina” is a rare instance where Pergament shines without being obfuscated by the murky bass of Clark Leeuwrik or the filthy fretwork of guitarist Josh Cosco. However, other tracks—like the ultra heavy “Hell” see Cosco in action, drowning the listener with gallon after gallon of grime as Leeuwrik’s lurid, writhing bass guitar snares the listener like a bear trap. If you’re expecting a sentence highlighting the band’s ability to entrance the listener with momentary melody and atmosphere, keep expecting it—It isn’t coming. Together, the trio that make up Nautilus’ nasty instrumental dynamic make an EP that starts heavy, gets heavier and ends at a weight so gargantuan it defies categorization.
One might expect keeping up with such a dismal progression of downtempo destruction to be difficult, or almost impossible for a standard vocalist. That might be true—but Michael Kearney is no standard vocalist. While he may be assisted be genre heavyweights Tyler Shelton and Alex Teyen, Kearney is still a killer, make no mistake. “Burden” alone is proof of this, but the moments where he contrasts Teyen on “Kalina” give his extraordinary talent context. Kearney is king of Nautilus’ Burden, reigning with a relentless, hefty growl and a harsh bark that makes rabid Rottweilers seem tame. At times, however, Kearney cannot bear the hefty weight of Burden alone—for those times, Leeuwrik comes to the rescue with a hectic, traditional hardcore bark. Whether it’s Kearney’s catchy, cunning one-liner at “Kalina”‘s climax or his unstoppable performance during “Burden” and “Hell,” by the time he’s let off his last syllable, there will be no question left in the listener’s mind that he is a prodigal talent—If the listener even has a mind left.
To an extent, Nautilus aren’t renovating the downtempo deathcore game—and that’s just fine. They don’t bombard the listener with hackneyed gimmicks or forced moments of pointless brutality or out-of-place technicality. They let loose with pure, heartfelt heaviness. “Beast” is far from an exact replica of The Acacia Strain’s hit song—It’s the band taking something and adding a unique twist to it, giving the listener a fresh perspective on a tried-and-true favorite. In fact, that analogy extends to Nautilus’ entire release. Burden is a style of deathcore known to be effective and twisted ever so slightly to give the listener a new experience to immerse themselves in—and a new band to obsess over. Burden may not start a new trend, or break new ground…but it isn’t meant to. It is brutality for brutality’s sake, and it is done exceptionally well.
Nautilus are be straw sure to shatter the listener’s spine. Burden is an amalgam of all mankind’s atrocities, held together by gallons of hate and disgust and brought down on the listener’s neck like a dull guillotine, hammering away again and again until there is nothing but mangled flesh remaining.
For Fans Of: Traitors, Black Tongue, The Acacia Strain, Rex
By: Connor Welsh