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Sullen: Nodus Tollens - Act 1: Oblivion

I wasn't familiar with Sullen before giving their latest album Nodus Tollens - Act 1: Oblivion a spin, and their specific take on chunky, rhythmic, and modern prog metal has been a nice surprise. Very technically proficient and cerebral, Sullen are a five piece band from Portugal that deliver an album in Nodus Tollens that is an attempt to explore the human mind's way of dealing with the anxiety of losing one's way in life.

The individual performances here are great, with a slew of detuned (or played on 7/8/9 string guitars, my old ass can't tell anymore) chugging polyrhythmic riffs, graceful keyboard textures, and lock-step razor sharp drums. The vocals are generally clean, melodic, and layered to the nines. Vocalis David Pais can be a bit of a chameleon, though; in lead off track "The Prodigal Son" he unleashes some death metal growls in addition to a lovely and ethereal clean vocal outro that stands out as one of the highlight moments of the album. So, technically you are looking at a very capable and tight unit here; not unlike a mish mash of Cynic and Pain of Salvation delivered in a very modern package. I know I'm setting you up for disappointment with a lofty sentiment like that, but it's what I hear at least on a fundamental level.

Nodus Tollens, to me, is most successful when the songs deliver all of the different elements that the band excels at in one fell swoop. "The Prodigal Son", "Memento", and to a lesser degree the album closer "Fail Safe" achieve this by bringing the pummeling riffs and complimentary keys with Pais' half-dozen or so different vocal styles and delivery methods at full bore. These songs are heavy as all hell, but still reasonably accessible as far as prog metal goes these days, and their adherence to the concept throughout is commendable. As a concept album, Nodus Tollens comes at you in waves, and there's no lack of moody instrumental interludes to break up the progressive heft found on the release. They serve a purpose conceptually, but depending on your listening habits you could take or leave them, really. You know the drill by now if you listen to this style of music. Some moody keys and weird noises and all that. Personally I don't feel it has a negative effect on the album, and adds a neat textural layer to everything.

Nodus Tollens is definitely a must-listen if you are a fan of the new school of prog metal that is dependent on super heavy chunky riffs, and it has enough of an old school vibe from the keys that are draped all over the album that even fans of the more noodly varieties of the genre should give it a try. It's fairly short as well, so not much of a time investment to give it a whirl.

Track list:
1. The Prodigal Son
2. Skylines (featuring Ole Børud)
3. Soul Interrupted
4. Acheronta Movebo
5. Memento
6. Human
7. The After
8. Fail-safe

Added: April 22nd 2021
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 695
Language: english

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