Nobis return, with 50 percent more!

Come to confession
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  August 1, 2012

BACK FROM THE DEAD Classif Maine metal group returns, with two new members, after seven years under.

Checking out the line-up for Oxxfest, which moves to Scarborough Downs next weekend, some of you might get a blast from the past: Trivium? The local metal band that used to play gigs with Twitchboy and Broken Clown?

But, no, that's Trivium the four-piece UK metal band that you've probably heard of if you follow progressive metal at all.

Still, it's good to remember our local heavy roots from time to time, and Nobis is another name on the Oxxfest line-up that ought to get the nostalgic juices flowing. Their new release, Confession, some seven years after their debut, A Blurred Sense of the Divine, picks up where they left off and then some, with two new members from Red Cloud Revival/Donnybrook in Jim and Josh McLaughlin.

The addition of a second guitar and backing vocals, respectively, fills out Nobis's sound nicely, giving lead vocalist Tim Sereyko someone to work call-and-response with and to harmonize with in the choruses. And Jim's guitar makes Nobis's melodic work more like traditional heavy metal, with a rhythmic chunk underneath spiraling notes that climb into the ether and then settle back down into the low end.

The general recipe really hasn't changed much, though. Sereyko is the focus, with an ever-changing delivery that moves from growling grit to full-on scream to operatic metal to indie croon in just about every song. It's employed especially well when he uses it for effect, like competing voices in his head.

In "All But Gone," the core is a pretty delivery of syrupy sentiment: "Cherish your days, each one of them/ Living and dying by carpe diem." Then comes the guttural growl of response, imploring a further desperation: "Those days are all but gone/ Do all that you can to stay young." As on many of the eight songs here, there's some good halting rhythmic work in the finish, with a particularly nice floor-tom breakdown from drummer Lee LeVasseur.

Sereyko even moves to something akin to rap in "Only Mortals," with a quick-cadenced delivery and lyrics that are reminiscent of rappers' boastfulness: "Then came the breakdown of towns/ Tearing down of every wall/ They didn't leave without knowing who conquered all." Although rappers would be unlikely to remind you that "we are only mortals" (next up: Sam is encouraged to check out the underground Tolkien-rap phenomenon). Tack on the snake-charmer vibe that opens and closes the tune, plus the delicate falsetto delivery in the center that introduces some hold-on-to-your-seats double bass, and you've got a song with some serious dynamics.

Ultimately, that's what allows Nobis to get away with long songs, including the nine-minute-plus closer "My Wake." They do enough to change things up and keep the songs interesting that you're practically unaware as a listener that you're still listening to the same song.

The album's title track is probably the best one here, with a central verse that's straight-ahead goth rock, like a mix of Depeche Mode and Skinny Puppy. It's a head-nodder, for sure, and though the lyrics are some of the darkest on the album — "I am faith's disillusion, sin's most valued customer" — and promise a complimentary ticket to hell, it's actually somewhat sunshiney in the finish, pushing out major chords.

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