Album Review: Nonpoint - 'The Return'.
Florida’s Nonpoint return, both in the figurative and titular sense, with this, incredibly their eighth album. The band first appeared on the scene in 1997, and if you didn’t know this already, their aesthetic would certainly give it away. With de-tuned succinct riffing and lyrical content addressing emotional pain and endurance, theirs is a sound that is based heavily on elements of Nu Metal - the de rigueur noise of the day in the late 1990s - with a hearty dose of groove thrown in for good measure.
The Nu Metal tag may sound the alarm bells loudly for some, however Nonpoint take the best bits of the often maligned subgenre, and leave out all the mess. So there are no raps, – despite singer Elias Soriano’s admitted influence from some of hip-hop’s leading figures, singling out Kendrick Lamar and Eminem in particular – scratches or DJs, and guitar solos, where appropriate, are welcome in the mix.
Nu Metal may provide the footing, however it’s Groove Metal that really dominates and defines this album. The cutting and powerful ‘Pins And Needles’, which opens the album, sets the tone, and the formula on which much of the rest of the album is built. Both the single-string riffage and huge harmonised chorus of ‘Razors’, and the hard-driving bite of ‘Misery’ for example, follow suit. The title track meanwhile, with its Vinnie Paul-esque tom-tom stomp, stylistically hints at the kings of groove, Pantera. All the while, musically, the band are as tight as Soriano’s fist around the mic, while his vocal stylings heavily reminiscent of Maynard James Keenan.
It’s not just about the groove though, and catchy choruses and infectious melodies are all over the album. First single ‘Breaking Skin’, does just that, and gets right under it, with its “eyes are always falling on you” refrain and Linkin Park tinges. As does ‘Take This World Apart’, with its muted guitars, eerie chiming double string melodies and big choruses.
There are few surprises, but the acoustic intro to ‘Widowmaker’ does offers a change of pace, and it’s pleasingly picked intro and restrained clean harmony soloing is a welcome breath of fresh air before normal service resumes, and the song kicks into gear. ‘Never Cared Before’ too offers something a little less formulaic, with its fast paced verses raising the pulse. With double kick drums and the occasional growl, it’s as low down and dirty as Nonpoint get.
One track however sticks out for all the wrong reasons. The banal ‘F**k’D’ (their edit, not mine) really falls short of the mark, with an entirely predictable and tiresome lyrical content listing what’s ‘fucked’ about our ‘fucked up world’, that will appeal to no one over the age of thirteen. To make matters worse, there are traces of Chad Kroeger in Soriano’s vocal delivery, so the song comes across like a throwaway Nickelback track, cynically repackaged and marked for the hormonal, hate-your-parents adolescent.
Overall, expletive laden misstep aside, ‘The Return’ is a solid and competent release. Although perhaps, a little out of step - released fifteen years ago this album may have been massive - you’ve got to admire a band for sticking to their guns. Less schizophrenic than Korn, and more tuneful than Slipknot, Nonpoint are the agreeable, middle of the road Nu Metal band. Now that’s fucked up.
First published on uberrock.co.uk, 6 November 2014.